Virgin Money Spot

Cool factor 4/5
Usability 4/5
Value for money N/A

Virgin Money has launched a peer-to-peer payment app called Spot. The app lets you transfer funds from your linked bank account to a friend’s linked bank account but without the fuss of swapping banking details, as it uses mobile numbers for identification.

Of course, P2P mobile payments aren’t new, but there are several benefits to this platform that mean it just might make a dent in the SA market — where so many others have tried and failed (or enjoyed only middling success).

First, Virgin Money is a registered financial services provider, and a recognised brand. It already has a foothold in SA, offering credit cards, car and home insurance, and funeral cover.

Second, the app works with any Internet-enabled banking card, so there is no self-limiting potential customer base.

From a security perspective, the app uses 3D Secure when you add your card, which is a verification process preferred by Mastercard and Visa, and this is enabled by a one-time PIN that 3D Secure sends you. You load a card once (one allowed per phone number), and all transactions thereafter are approved using a PIN of your choosing.

As with all of these payment facilities, the PIN is the key, so Virgin Money states explicitly never to share your PIN, even with its own staff.

The app interface is simple, attractive and very usable. The Spot button on the bottom right of the screen lets you make payments. And there are two "news" feeds: a personal one of your transactions, and one of transactions made public.

The usefulness of this feature remains a mystery to this reviewer, but it’s there and speaks to general activity on the platform.

You can send money to people via the app (which is available to both Android and iOS users), and to those on other operating systems — but these recipients will have to access their funds via a website process. There are no fees associated with payments.

Daily and monthly limits apply but they are rather generous for this kind of impulse micropayment: R2,000 daily, or R10,000 monthly. Plus you can earn money for referrals. Virgin Money promises you R20 for any user who signs up with your referral code and links their card. There is no limit on referral earnings.