snapscanIf you read my blog, you know how I love any tech that makes my life easier.

By easier I mean not standing in a queue or doing things that require less effort. Ideally, I’d rather not want to open my bag, take out my wallet, and pull out the right card; use a printed boarding pass; and as for loyalty cards – why isn’t there a digital wallet that everyone can use in SA?

I’d only willingly queue to sign up for a service that’s still in alpha.

So when Standard Bank introduced the SnapScan app – open to anyone, not just their clients, I was super keen to try it. I signed up weeks ago and only got to try it last week, when I was back in SA. The problem with signing up weeks before using it? You may forget your password, like what happened to me. The only way around this is to reset your profile.


Signing up requires you to link your card/s to the app. If you are paranoid about scanning your cards into an app, I’m guessing you feel the same way about internet- and mobile app- banking. Standard Bank says your cards are saved only to your phone and not their external servers. Also, you can’t pay for anything without punching in your PIN. So if anything had to happen to your handset, nobody can use SnapScan to make purchases.

Once you sign up, you can use the app to search for merchants in different areas or what is nearby. Motherland Coffee was an easy enough choice to make on my first try. SnapScan says it has 10 000 merchants listed (most of them are in the Western Cape).


You order as you normally would, and when it comes to payment, just let the cashier know that you want to pay with SnapScan. There will be a huge QR code at the till point already. Open the app, and hit “scan” and direct your phone in front of the QR code.

For the first time in my experience, a QR code was scanned within seconds – literally. I was still trying to position my handset properly and it scanned the code. You will get a prompt to enter the amount you owe the merchant, and then hit pay. At this point in the process you will be requested for your PIN code. Enter it and you’re done. The merchant will get a text message (depending on each one’s setup I guess). Motherland Coffee had an old Nokia handset showing these texts.

It’s that simple – snap, pay and go. If you’re a runner or cyclist or whatever you’re tweeting to the world that you’re doing to keep fit, you don’t need to carry a bulky wallet around after a race, etc. Just pop into one of the merchants listed and pay within seconds. Load a debit or credit card.

The app was created by FireID based in Stellenbosch (residents here got to use the service long before it rolled out in Johannesburg), and won the 2013 MTN Business App of the Year award. SnapScan is available on Android, BlackBerry and iOS.