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An electronic wallet for retail convenience?

Posted by: sgb


What would you pay to look cool? Is an electronic wallet an acceptable measure of retail convenience?

At my local coffee shop - Vida - I picked up the pamphlet for AMMO, an application for your cellphone to convert it into an electronic wallet. It looked interesting, but being a bit short of the neccessary (and being very suspicious of anyone who asks for electronic cash) I thought I better check it up.

The AMMO website tries to be very cool. Full of hip jargon and the like. I enjoy it but it is a bit long winded if you are trying to find something specific - like the costs involved.


cell phone wallet

The principle is simple. Ammo is an electronic wallet. You download the application, create an AMMO account, register your credit card with it (using a five digit pin), transfer money into it and spend. Simple but, I have the following concerns.


money from cell phone wallet

1) Only credit cards: At present you can only link AMMO to credit cards but not debit cards. Seems wierd. However you can do an EFT payment to it if you have electronic banking.

2) The cost: using AMMO will effectively add over 3% to everything you buy! Downloading the AMMO app is free (though you pay any ISP WAP fees - relatively inexpensive). Purchasing is free (though you pay any ISP WAP fees - relatively inexpensive).


every time you load up your AMMO account it costs R3 per R100 loaded. i.e. it costs you 3% to access your money (By the way it took a long time to find this amongst all the claims of FREE - eventually found it in FAQ's). But over and above this 3% : whenever I use my credit card I get 60 days interest free. When I transfer to AMMO it counts as a cash transfer so I get no days interest free: -I start paying interest immediately. So if I transfer R100 and only spend it after a month it costs me R3 for the transfer and another R1.50 for the interest. i.e. I am paying 4.5% for this convenience.

4) Security: If you lose your cell phone your money is safe - waiting for you to get a new phone, download the APP and enter your pin. This may be safer than losing your credit card unless you've stored your pin on your cell phone of course. I also tend to think cell phones are easier to lose than credit cards??

3) Convenience: I am not sure if running an app and entering all the purchase details is any more convenient than handing over my card, so is it really more convenient to use a cell than a credit card? Also at present I know my credit card will be accepted everywhere but this AMMO wallet is only accepted at a few stores (see below - taken from the AMMO website, 14 June 2010)

    • vida Nationwide;
    • Nando’s Upper Long Street, Camps Bay, Sea Point and Lower Long Street;
    • Osumo, Western Cape;
    • Primi Piatti, V&A Waterfront;
    • Kauai in Virgin Active gyms;
    • Mugg and Bean Cavendish;
    • Soupa Café;
    • Saul’s Taverna, Sushi, Grill and Taverna;
    • Arnolds;
    • Paying a friend (who has AMMO);
    • Load airtime;
    • Buy pre-paid electricity;
    • Pay a water or electricity bill;

To my mind, technology for technology's sake. Over 3% does not compensate me for the dubious convenience.

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Comments (6)Add Comment
written by Jas, June 15, 2010
I don't see what the convenience is if you already have a credit card... Just use the credit card and forgo the digital wallet?
written by sgb, June 15, 2010
Agreed Jas. Yet you need the credit card to download money to AMMO. So....
written by OS GIKEN, June 15, 2010
yes...I love my credit card...absolute convenience, and I can just square it at the end of the month using internet banking...I don't see why I should have this, if its linked to my bank and included in my monthly payments, yes, I'll have it, but I already have so much purchasing power in one card I keep safely in my wallet...why now, when I have a credit card already, should i still have this???

Its like having a license card in my car...and then having the papers that said I did the license as well...
written by Tam, July 07, 2010
AMMO is not merely a replacement to your credit card. It is a one-stop payment application which allows you to:

1. Pay in a store

2. Top up your electricity meter from home, without having to schlep to the shops when it runs out

3. Buy airtime

4. Settle traffic fines, Telkom bills, municipal rates and all other Easypay bills

5. Pay a friend you owe, straight to their phone.

Over-and-above all of these benefits, AMMO is free to use EVERY time you use it, as opposed to the fees your bank charges for every transaction.

For more info, check out or call 0836504177.
written by sgb, July 07, 2010
Yes, but they charge 3% every time you load it, so you are effectively paying 3% more for every purchase.
written by barrmar, July 08, 2010
It seems a very expensive option for very little added convenience. For EFT payments I use Internet banking and transfer from my credit card. That is free. In fact I use my credit card as a debit card only but with the same convenience as a credit card and no transaction charges.

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