NEDBANK has launched a cellphone-based point-of-sale device enabling small to medium-size enterprises (SMEs) to transact more safely with their clients, while cutting down on transaction costs.

Nedbank PocketPOS operates through a smartphone connected to a secure card reader, which allows smaller businesses to make debit and credit card transactions anywhere.

Many SMEs have been unable to use traditional point-of-sale devices as many of these machines require mains electricity and fixed data or telephone lines to work.

However, Nedbank retail banking head Ingrid Johnson said on Friday that the Nedbank PocketPOS allowed small businesses to transact wherever there was a mobile network signal.

She said the device would enable these businesses to manage the risk of holding cash.

Merchants such as plumbers, electricians and restaurant services that delivered food to homes would be able to transact without the need for cash.

Ms Johnson said many smaller businesses handled large amounts of cash.

Not only was this a security risk, but they incurred further charges when they deposited cash into the bank. "We would like to capture the whole SME market. It is a very secure device. We have invested a lot in security," she said.

MasterCard SA division president Philip Panaino commended Nedbank for the initiative. "Nedbank PocketPOS expands the card acceptance reach beyond the traditional card acceptance footprint in SA," he said on Friday.

"It provides merchants with a new way to receive payments, and gives consumers a new, convenient and safe way to pay for their goods," Mr Panaino said.