Cape Town – Unbanked consumers in South Africa can now shop online thanks to an innovation in barcode technology.

Local payment gateway provider PayGate last week announced a partnership deal with Trans Africa Solutions on a system dubbed SCode.

SCode allows consumers to pay with electronic barcode invoices that are generated on partner e-commerce websites when shoppers buy something online.

The e-barcodes can then be printed and presented at selected retail outlets to make the payment for the goods. This in turn removes the need for credit card or electronic funds transfer (EFT), opening up e-commerce to more customers.

“You can now imagine a parent in a remote area buying textbooks online via their cellphones, receiving a barcoded invoice and then being able to make payment at their local Shoprite and their child at university receiving the books the next day,” said SCode director, Fraser Gregg about the potential for the technology.

“This opens online shopping to every person, across every LSM (living standard measurement),” said Gregg .

Card fraud

“It also enables the large number of consumers who prefer to use cash, or who don’t have bank cards, to make payment for online purchases – solving the challenge for both the consumer and the retailer,” said Brendon Williamson, PayGate’s head of business development.

43% of South Africans said that traditional over the counter transactions are safer than internet banking, said a study by cyber security firm Kaspersky.

PayGate said the platform is available in OK, Shoprite, Checkers, USave stores and all Post Office branches, with further expansion planned this year.