Critical Elements of Choosing a Payment Gateway in Africa: Diversity of Online Payment Products and Reliability

For international e-commerce businesses wanting to open up e-commerce websites and receive payment online in Africa, more ways to get paid (ie greater diversity of online payment products) and absolute reliability are key deliverables.

In Europe, the East and Americas, consumers have moved beyond the days when it was just credit cards being accepted and it was “situation normal” for websites to be offline for extended periods.

Africa is playing catch-up in this area in which consumer demand, sophistication and the need for instant gratification mean that websites and their payment systems need to ensure continuous availability.

Consumers have a choice, are often shopping around (take the highly competed area of low-cost airlines for example) and if they can’t get it right, or right now, they will defect to a more reliable competitor. Arthur Goldstuck (African technology research guru), is predicting a boom in 2013 and one of the factors is “confidence in the reliability of the medium”. African consumers are moving online at a rapid rate (the online market is growing at between 30% and 40% year on year) and a large number of these African consumers do not have credit cards.

A deduction can be made from the Nilsen Report on card acquiring and issuing is that in Africa there is approximately 4 times the number of debit cards to credit cards in issue. Imagine if these debit cards customers could shop online with debit card acceptance as an online payment product.
PayGate has pioneered and launched the acceptance of debit card online.

In addition to PayD which is acceptance of Secure Debit Card With Pin in South Africa, there are a number of other alternative online payment products available through PayGate payment gateway like Ukash, SiD Secure EFT, FNB Cell PayPoint and PaySum1 where online consumers can pay merchants in their own currency from their own country by EFT. In Africa as an evolving continent in terms of technology, communications and online payment products, merchants need to be careful when choosing a payment gateway from the perspective of “reliability” and “more ways to get paid”.

Firstly there is no point in having an African payment gateway partner who looks fancy, promises the earth and yet has a bad habit of being offline so customers can’t buy and are lost to opposition websites. Secondly, what is the point of having credit cards only, when there are four times as many debit cards in circulation?

Choose your African payment gateway carefully… the loss of profit from a few hours of downtime is way more than a whole month of payment gateway fees. Continuous availability and diversity of online payment products are critical elements when choosing a payment gateway.