Getting used to fast, convenient payments online, again

Living in the USA for 10 years, I became quite used to paying for many goods and services online. I’ve been living in Ghana for 4 years now and I’ve become used to not doing so. Spending cash has become part and parcel of my lifestyle that I’ve become numb to the conveniences of online transactions, in Ghana. I’ve not had as many opportunities to transact online, fair enough. I’m not as worried about online payment security because I believe I can spot an insecure transaction if I saw one. Many others can’t and trust in online payments bedevils the e-commerce industry here. It will take time, but Canaan couldn’t reach here faster.

There’ve been many local innovations around the online transaction problem but I’ve found most of them too cumbersome. At Rancard, I worked on our payment gateway- PayApp, and one of our biggest features was to ensure quick steps to completing payment. In this current environment, many people forget passwords so giving them a familiar way to log in is key. The mobile phone is king as it continues to outnumber people in Ghana so mobile authenticated payments are extremely important. This same development is what makes mobile money extremely popular in Ghana, even if it’s not quite reached the ubiquity and complex use cases we see in East Africa.

Mobile money discussion at Barcamp Kasoa 2015. #bckasoa
Mobile money’s most popular use cases are in buying mobile airtime and sending and receiving money. They can be used to pay for services and bills but the actual use pales in comparison to the publicity and marketing it gets. I’ve seen cases where mobile money is an option for an online payment, but the process is normally manual, and not as seamless. There’s also the small issue of getting money into the mobile money account. Small but big enough to greatly affect the number of mobile money subscribers who use (or have used) mobile money for payment, including for the popular cases aforementioned.

Ghana’s banked population is very minimal, as estimates put this under 5 million in a population that’s past 25 million. MTN Mobile Money subscribers equal the banked population. Ghana’s unbanked population is at 60%. There are a lot of underbanked people in Ghana, who have bank accounts but no access to other financial solutions. It’s a bankable market. But because it is small, there are few banking innovations in place in Ghana to fully serve our needs.Given my experiences, I want to use my bank card in many instances, especially online transactions.
I yearn for fast, convenient payments and have finally found it in Ghana. After using expressPay for the first time, I marveled at the simplicity of the service. Paying is simple. With only a few taps on my phone, I select my VISA card (which is tokenized for security) and I am done paying. Best of all, the service is delivered in real time. Curtis Vanderpuije, CEO at expressPay, states that the most important driving feature for expressPay is that it works. It simply does the job elegantly and efficiently.
There are hardly many avenues, trusted that is which also have volumes using these services, to buy and pay online. I used expressPay to pay for my Vodafone Broadband earlier, and I was still amazed by how fast my internet started working. No need to go to the Vodafone cafe, stand in line, pay for my bill, call home to check if the WiFi is working so that if it isn't, address Vodafone there and then. Another bonus was that I learnt I had GHC2 advance on my account. So I could actually pay GHC2 less on my payment.
Recently, my mother came to visit me at home. She run out of airtime in the middle of a call. I logged on to the expressPay Android app on my Samsung A3 phone and bought her credit. In under a minute, she had airtime to continue making calls. “Wow”, she said. No need to look for the small boy to go buy credit. After that experience, she yearns for it all the time. She barely texts and is a number of tutorials away from using a smart phone though, so I have been doing it for now. It’s the same way my buddy in Mountain View, California buys airtime and pays bills for his mother in Pantang, Accra.

More wow moments can demystify online payments for many people in Ghana and build trust in online transactions. Wherever we keep our money, in our bank accounts or mobile money wallets, it should be as easy to get money as it is getting money in. This can be done in the comfort of our phones, the most popular device in Ghana. expressPay is a solid option for fast, convenient payments for purchases we do all the time. I’m getting used to making payments online, again.


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