By Prince Osuagwu
One of the major reasons for introducing the cashless initiative by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, was to change the way financial transactions are conducted.
However, with Nigeria being a heavily cash based society where most transactions involve the use of cash, the target was to expose consumers to e-payment channels.
But the seeming missing link was how to properly integrate the growing number of Small and Medium Enterprises which accounts for a greater percentage of the economy.
In developing economies like Nigeria where there is a huge percent of entrepreneurial activity and growth, there are always many thriving Small and Medium Scale businesses.
Statistics have shown that thriving economies have always revolved their transaction policies and modifications around this group of economic stakeholders. Arguments are that this was not particularly the case in Nigeria.
Many experts have agreed that one of the ways to grow ecommerce in Nigeria is largely through online payment solution. However, none of the several solutions tailored towards this, seems to have made online payments easier both for developers, merchants and individuals.
Apparently this is what attracted the attention of an indigenous technology company, VoguePay, which recently introduced a seamless web payment platform for SMEs in Nigeria.
VoguePay, an online payment platform, said it has observed a greater consumer response when more convenient methods become available that offer buyers and sellers a secure and easy-to-use means of transacting business online.
According to the CEO of VoguePay, Mr Leke Ojikutu, “if Nigeria is to go cashless, there has to be a way for businesses to accept payment from remote buyers without buyers going to pay cash into seller’s bank account. That is the first port of call. So, to plug that hole, we decided to launch VoguePay.
“Even as a software company, we searched a payment solution that can allow us to sell online real time with suitable payment processor that incorporates multiple credit/debit cards without limiting the merchants. But we couldn’t find a worthy platform, so we created one. We created a new standard for payment. We launched what is now the biggest payment processor in Nigeria with over 3600 registered Merchant base and over 1000 websites linking into it”.
Ojikutu added that “with the introduction of VoguePay, it is now easy for every business in Nigeria to create flexible payment options for its customers who are interested in making purchases with ATM cards for transactions across e-payment platforms like Mobile and e-commerce stores.
Since its launch in May 2012, VoguePay has worked in partnership with several businesses in Nigeria to solve payment problems and can now boast of huge acceptance by many businesses both in the corporate and non-corporate sectors. Officials of the company pride the product as Clients’ choice solution to power sales of books, apps products and services, while providing a convenient way for their customers to shop easily on the Internet.
Ojikutu said that VoguePay is the answer to the challenge of web payment for SMEs in the country even as it provides more value to users at the lowest cost possible.
His argument was that “if people can electronically pay for goods and services online, this will help business owners to accept payment from remote buyers without buyers going to pay cash into seller’s bank account. By providing a service like VoguePay, it now becomes easy for any company to setup a website to collect payment and expose their consumers to e-payment channels.”
He explained that many businesses like online stores, book sellers, SMS companies, and brick and mortal businesses can actually increase their sales when they allow alternative payment options on their website or stores which, until now, was a difficult and costly expedition for business owners.
Meanwhile, Hi-Tech sampled opinions of some users of the solution who confessed reliability. For instance, the CEO of 85kobo.com, Mr. Abegunde Michael, said, “VoguePay has really turned my business around. I’ve retained and acquired more clients because it has never failed me.”
Perhaps the most interesting feature of VoguePay is that it supports mobile payments via its TEXT-DIRECT feature that works on any SMS-enabled mobile phone. What this means is that even though merchants don’t have Internet access, they can manage their accounts by SMS from anywhere.