Online Payment System Would Fuel E-Commerce

The world is experiencing an information technology revolution that is changing how business and commerce transactions are conducted.

Entrepreneurial programmers are developing innovative web and app based services on top of existing platforms such as the web and mobile operating systems, especially Android, IOS and Windows.

Many of these apps and websites make money through aertisements by enticing other businesses to place aerts on their pages at a cost, much like the print newspapers and magazines. The aert-based revenue generation model is however only suitable for some online businesses, especially the ones that provide content such as photos, music, videos or text to read. Though a number of online ventures will continue to rely on aerts, the new trend of online innovations is on e-commerce, where users are directly paying for services online. This is exciting because it enables online businesses to do monetary transactions with their customers, rather than relying on third parties for income in exchange for often compromising the look and feel of their pages.

It is very exciting because it enables forms of business, other than content based services to be conducted online. It is now possible to summon and pay for a taxi online, book and pay for accommodation from wherever internet connection is available – just as one can now buy and download a newly released song or pay and receive a ticket for a show. These and many other business activities never imagined before can now conveniently be done online.

NO PROGRESS

Unfortunately, Namibia has not yet recorded much progress in this new generation of business and there are a number of reasons for that, the main one being that most of the available online payment systems require users to have credit cards. Only a very small percentage of the Namibian population qualifies for credit cards and the few who have them are hardly willing to do online transactions using their credit card information due to perceived security reasons. We also don’t have an open Namibian online payment system that any merchant can readily integrate on their site to accept payments online.

The ideal online payment system for the Namibian market must be inclusive enough to allow anyone with access to the internet either through the PC or mobile phone to do online payments. This must be done without necessarily using a credit card but by rather loading cash on a payment system at designated places or online through local banks’ internet banking portals for later use when the need to buy something online arises. It must also be able to be interfaced to any website or app that Namibian programmers will develop for the purpose of receiving payments online. Such a system would expand the range of possible innovations that Namibia based ‘techpreneurs’ can come up with.

The Namibian payment systems that come close to ideal are Mobi-Pay, FNB’s e-wallet, mobile operators’ premium SMSes and the newly launched Ebank. All these are however not readily available through an API for any online merchant to integrate on hisher app or website as a payment system.

The availability of an online payment system would enable entrepreneurs to create sustainable revenue generating start-ups that would attract funding from venture capital firms. Better yet, entrepreneurs can easily bootstrap their start-ups if they are lean enough to be supported by the generated revenue and thus avoid the hassle of looking for funds that would result in ceding some equity and control over the venture.

CHALLENGES

The major challenges that are encountered when setting up an online payment system are, among others, security and banking regulatory issues with centralreserve banks. Security concerns must not be the show stopper in Namibia because online payment is not a new thing worldwide, so we can learn from others and implement the well tested online security systems that are already used to secure billions dollar worth of daily online transaction done worldwide. We have also recently experienced innovation in mobile payment systems that are also prone to similar security issues but we have not yet heard of security breaches.

The Bank of Namibia, especially its governor, Ipumbu Shiimi, have shown enthusiasm towards the technology innovation ecosystem by his pledge of support towards the Namibia Business Innovation Centre (NBIC). Based on that, one would expect the BoN to support the online payment system as long as it does not compromise the stability of the country’s overall banking system and especially that an online payment system would contribute toward having a cashless economy where businesses and individuals do not have to carry big amounts of cash.

Tulinanye Sheya is a UCT educated electrical engineer employed in the telecommunication industry and a hobbyist programmer. He writes in his private capacity.

Source : The Namibian