Friday, 15 January 2010

Nigerian Online Payment Systems













For some time we've been looking for an on-line payment gateway to integrate to a web project we are developing. So I embarked on a search for a good one that meets our requirements. The most important requirement is that it has to be Nigerian, one might say "Why?". Well, we trust Nigerian because unlike foreign companies we believe they won't freeze our account simply because we are Nigerians.


My search led me to discover some payment systems which I list below.

SurePay
from a company called websoft. SurePay is a service which I cannot tell weather I like or not because it is so shrouded in secrecy. The website tells me that as a merchant I can accept interswitch, visa, Mastercard and Etranzact cards payment but refused to show me how. I couldn't get access to their API. They say I need some kind of certification to integrate it to my site and that costs N75,000 plus an activation fee of N50,000. A total of N125,000 before I can integrate or even see the API. So what happens if after paying I discovered that the API is crap ? Moreover both interswitch and Etranzact web payment service costs roughly N150,000 each. I'd rather go for one them since they provide a full online merchant account. So I moved on passing SurePay.

PayLive365 from iDevWorks: I had a lot of hope on this service because I've seen like two products from iDevWorks that impressed me. It's like the engineers over there know their onions. But the problem is that the service is still in Beta and I couldn't even create an account. So I came back after a few days and it's still in Beta, then a few weeks, then a few months and still Beta. The last time I checked, their ssl certificate has expired.

NetNaira from goattale: The first time I came across NetNaira, I fell in love with it, I checked out their API and loved it. This is despite the fact that my customers need a NetNaira account to pay me. So I registered a merchant account and started integration work on our site. They even have a sandbox url that you can use for development and testing. So everything was Ok and we were ready to go live. Suddenly we discovered that you have to pay N10,000 to get activated. Well, that's not too bad we thought. But there is a new rule on NetNaira, you can't have a transaction that's worth more than N40,000. Too bad what we want to sell costs a bit more than that. I still couldn't understand the logic behind that restriction. Netnaira charges commissions per transaction, I'll expect them to welcome high value transactions because it will lead to bigger commissions. Well, maybe it's not for me to understand. So I left Netnaira with a broken heart. We could have had a great relationship.

SoftPurse from SoftCom: The first impression SoftPurse gave was of a service that is well designed and developed. There website design was also cool. Though a merchant only get paid by a client with a SoftPurse account, they allow clients to fund accounts with Interswitch or Etranzact cards. There API is available once you register a merchant account which is free. My only reservation is their choice of API design. They used XML webservices. I personally prefer an API that's based on HTTP POST parameters. That way integration will be a matter minutes instead of days. We went ahead and tried integrating with the existing API but not without some hitches. But we are not giving up on SoftPurse so I got in touch with their lead engineer, Ezra Olubi. Ezra is a great guy that seems to be receptive to ideas. He even accepted our input and made a correction on their integration example. We have now postponed integrating softpurse but we did not shelve it. I think Ezra is one of the reasons why we are carrying on with SoftPurse.

CashEnvoy: I am not going to waste too much time on them cos they've hidden all integration info and require me to send them an e-mail to get it. Sometimes it's annoying how companies scare away potential customers by being unnecessarily secretive.

FasteCash by TechClick Limited: This is also an e-wallet. Meaning customers need to have an account before they can pay merchants. FasteCash seems to be at lost about their actual business model, one minute you get the impression they are an online payment system and the next minute they are a bulk sms service. if you don't believe me, go through their FAQ. But the real problem here is that you need some kind of scratch card to load your account. All the scratch card resellers are either in Lagos, Port-Harcourt or Warri and our lab is in Maiduguri. If you don't understand my point then I suggest you get a map of Nigeria and check the distance between Maiduguri and any of the three cities I mentioned. I know Maiduguri is far but at least get a reseller in Abuja. I have more reasons to go to Abuja than to go to Warri. Though one can load via bank payment, I still say no thanks. We don't want to put our customers through that trouble. We can as well collect bank payments directly. On a positive note, I like the design of their homepage and they have quite a number of resellers but none across the Niger.

ChezolaPay : This is one payment system that got my attention because it got some reviews from blogs that I respect; Timbuktu Chronicles and White African. But the last time I checked, their site has vanished.

NairaPro: I am going to keep it short. No FAQ or API info. Maybe I'll have to register to get them. But at least give me a FAQ.

VTN
from LFR Communications: Virtual Terminal Network has all the problems you can get in all the payment systems we passed on. They also have the additional disadvantage of not accepting any of the popular payment cards used in Nigeria. To fund your account you have to load via their bank account. VTN has everything to scare us away, but we are not running, we are planning to integrate VTN as an option. This is for some reasons we took into consideration. VTN already has up to 3000 merchants, a hunch tells us that there are even more non-merchant accounts than that. So there maybe potential customers that already have VTN accounts. Secondly VTN seems to be a mature payment platform judging by the company's experience in online payment even before creating VTN. The same company owns GraphCard. Thirdly, their API is not secret and you do not pay anything for a merchant account.


There are other payment systems I came across during my search but I believe only the ones above deserve any mention. Many are just crap some of the sites are filled with broken links, while some don't seem to understand what a payment system is suppose to be.
I think I must make it clear that the above review was largely based on my personal opinion and the opinion of my team members. So don't just take my word, go check out their sites and judge for yourself.

17 comments:

  1. Well documented... am familiar with most of them.
    I personally like cashenvoy(www.cashenvoy.com). Have used it before to pay...and I have to say the payment process was flawless..there (24/7) customer service also is second to none. I also plan to integrate there service on my website (Nigeria's first grocery store:coming soon). True! I needed to register and send them a mail before getting there API, I was also asked to complete a mechant application form and send a scanned copy of my Nepa bill. It wasn't much of a problem and I didn't consider it unneccessary cos they needed it to verify that my address actually existed. They say they do this verification test to protect there users...cos if u set up a fake site and collect people's money and run away how do they track you...users also feel secure becos they know CashEnvoy wud hav verified the website there paying on... and wit the way internet scam is in Nigeria... I totally agree with them.. there integration API is also based on HTTP post parameters... give dem a try...hav been impressed by them so far..u wud too

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  2. I work for CashEnvoy and I do appreciate your criticism - its been noted. You can test our service by simply registering a merchant account and send the requested email. You will be sent the integration pack and from there you can test and decide if you still want to go with us. Also note that we charge you no setup fees. We charge per transaction and even at that our rates are about the best you can get.

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    Replies
    1. How can i reach you? i'd like to ask questions on cashenvoy. My email address is nuelsal@gmail.com

      Thanx

      Delete
  3. Really nice review. I was doing some research about payment services in Nigeria, this artile has really saved me a lot of effort. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. Good review there. I would love an update on this? So which did you finally get to use?

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  5. PLEASE I NEED A PAYMENT SOLUTION I CAN USE TO PAY INTO SOMEBODY'S PAYPAL ACCOUNT FROM NIGERIA

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  6. cashenvoy is simply the best

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  7. Stanley, we finally integrated VTN and still have our eyes on softpurse. But with the current recommendations for cahsenvoy, we might give it a try. It's a team's decision you know.

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  8. Whether you are selling subscription, membership, shippable goods, downloadable digital goods, or online services, we have put together sensible and hassle-free ecommerce solutions that make your life a little easier.

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  9. Hi guys,
    Was crawling google and even had to call surepay, but they said they cant accept payment onbehalf of my legit business, LOL
    Anyway, whats the update on this? Which are you guys using? My most important aspects are Transaction Fees and ease of use by clients (if they dont have to register with payment processor, the better)

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  10. BTW, is there a way to communicate with the thread starter IG ?

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  11. @GSM CLINIC
    We finally settled for the old bank payment system. It seems people are not using the VTN option so we disabled it. We just added a little convenience in the bank payment system in that you can send money using etranzact to our bank account or make physical deposit. But you have to fill a form on the product's site with your details and reference number. We immediately get an SMS and an e-mail alert, we confirm the payment and send you the product. The product is actually a license key for our software which is downloadable online. We designed the system to let us complete the transaction in less than 30 minutes.

    We discovered the absence of our ideal payment gateway, so we started building a prototype that may end up being the real thing. I would have given more light on it but I can't do that on a personal blog.

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  12. bin up all night, researching on a gud nigerian payment gateway. Cashenvoy is my only hope now. let me give it a try. thank you all so much for sharing the info.

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  13. This B2B system is working vary fine because the products which the small business wants he can just go through the web site which is a time saving and money.

    Free Ecommerce Software

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  14. Your blog is very informative and useful. You have written it very well. I have bookmarked your blog. I appreciate your efforts. I will keep on coming here to check new updates. Thanks for posting.  starting up a business

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  15. Thank you so very much for this nice research. I was thinking of the best processor to use for my new website at http://www.naijabucks.com

    From your write up, it looks like the best option for now is CashEnvoy. I tried to integrate Voguepay but after series of attempts to credit my account failed, I should look for another more reliable option.

    Globalpay from Zenith bank and Etranzact are both asking for #250,000 each for one to get an API. This I find absolutely ridiculous because of the other sites I visited like Okpay, Liberty Reserve, Payza, etc none of them is asking for integration fees.

    Besides collecting integration fees as high as a quarter of a million naira, these sites would still collect transaction fees on every transaction you make. I simply see this as greed - The Nigerian factor playing out again.

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