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[eCommerce Africa Confex] The changing face of financial services

Four online business gurus, Andrew Dean, managing director: Calleo; Tim Bishop, online and mobile strategy innovator; Charles Pittaway, managing director: Sage Pay and Craig Mcleod, founder: GetBuildToday answered some questions on "Overcoming the challenges and creating an effective payment system" at the eCommerce Africa Confex.

[eCommerce Africa Confex] The changing face of financial services
©Dejan Bozic via 123RF
Here’s a summary of some of their insights:

What are agile payments?


Although there is no shortage of innovations, what seems to be missing is the realisation that there is a human at the end of the process. It’s all happening in silos and no-one is involving consumers in the process, which needs to be a relationship not just a transaction.

Vendors are hesitant to make it too complicated for consumers, and many are taking a wait-and-see approach as to who wins the race. Customers need to get used to making mobile payments. The trick is not make it confusing and educating them, using big data to meet their needs and rewarding them for their loyalty.

Is the payment business model changing?


There is still room for growth in the market and you need to analyse the data to see where it’s going. From the retailers’ point of view, it’s a race to the finish of who owns the data. Undoubtedly banks want to own the wallets and hence their investment in fintech.

It’s also about timing. Retailers want to provide convenience on the one hand, but there are costs involved for every payment channel offered. When choosing a payment system, retailers need to look at volume of customers on that product and whether their profile of customers want what it offers.

In terms of what the best payment option is for sub-Saharan Africa, again there is a wait-and-see attitude with regard to interoperability across different platforms. In terms of mobile, developers are watching what’s happening within different economic zone. The model in South Africa is still very card based, while the reality is that the market is never going to be one-size-fits-all, so it’s no good trying to shoe-horn solutions into the market. It really needs to be up to the consumer to decide what adds value.

What about couponing and rewards?


Again, this is a siloed thing. The problem is that retailers tend to shoot coupons out in the dark with no consideration of the consumers’ needs. Coupons should be ubiquitous and can be used anywhere. They need to apply to where the customer is in their life. For example, if the data says that the person has just had a baby, the coupons should be targeted towards nappies and other baby products.

Some retailers saying coupons work, others say they don’t.

How are more convenient payment methods standing up to security concerns?


There still needs to be a lot of conversation around security. It’s all about trust and whether the consumer has faith in the method of authentication and in terms of risk.

What’s coming?


The challenge facing Africa is actually getting people into some sort of banking system by whatever means, this is likely to include ewallets and mobile-proximity payment methods.

Another challenge to overcoming the wariness about making mpayments for big-ticket items. Most retailers are still struggling to break free of R50 transactions (coffee and parking) for apps such as SnapScan.

The eCommerce Africa Confex took place at the CTICC on 17-18 February.

About Nicci Botha

Nicci Botha has been wordsmithing for more than 20 years, covering just about every subject under the sun and then some. She's strung together words on sustainable development, maritime matters, mining, marketing, medical, lifestyle... and that elixir of life - chocolate. Nicci has worked for local and international media houses including Primedia, Caxton, Lloyd's and Reuters. Her new passion is digital media.

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