If you lived in Nigeria in the last 4 years you must be familiar with interswitch Nigeria or at least the ATM cards they issue through most Nigerian banks. Now interswitch and the banks have done a great work in providing those ATM services. And they made life a lot easier for us. interswitch also has an online payment gateway which they call interswitch webpay. This enable web merchants to accept payment from any interswitch card holder.
Think of the possibilities here. The last time I googled for the statistics there are approximately 17 million interswitch card holders and 10 million internet users in Nigeria. But there are only 200 web merchants that accept interswitch payment. Why are Nigerian web merchants not jumping on this opportunity? because interswitch won’t let them.
First of all the entry fee of integrating interswitch webpay interface to your website is just too outrageous. One has to pay N150,000 (one hundred and fifty thousand naira) per site. I thought that was just an initial price and will eventually come down, but three years has passed and it’s still 150 grand.
The second and the most annoying reason is the technology interswitch is using. When last did you hear of Java applets ? As far as I know java applets is an obsolete technology now. Well that’s what interswitch is using. Your customer’s browser must have sun java plug-in for them to pay you through interswitch. That means downloading at least 26 megabytes (if they don’t already have java run time+plug-in) simply to make payment on your site. With the type of Internet speed most widely available in Nigeria, I think going to a banking hall and paying into an account will be much faster. Even if you have the plug-in, the webpay applet is extremely slow to load which makes the processes considerably painful.
Recently there have been advertisements in national dailies by interswitch about their new improved chip based cards called “verve”. I do not know what pain this new cards solve but I’ve never heard any cardholder complain that his/her card is magnetic striped and he/she really needs a chip based one. instead of bringing new cards that do essentially what the old ones do interswitch would have changed it’s webpay interface to something that is supported by browsers out of the box. html+https anybody ?