critic, funding, Technology & Startups

Number One Reason Why The Nigerian Tech Scene won’t “BLOW”!!!

I sometimes complain about lack of innovation and the endless clones of popular western world type websites, but on second thoughts web developers in Nigeria shouldn’t be blamed, it makes sense travelling on the “safe road” especially when you have a major reason to do so as:

1. Payment gateways: It’s so difficult and expensive integrating payment gateways from companies like “Interswitch” into a website[1] and with the 16 just licensed mobile money operators, who don’t seem to care about the web but are more concerned about mobile to mobile and mobile to offline, cash transfers. I don’t see the industry “blowing up” anytime soon. If it’s so hard to get your money from customers as a website owner via the web, why would anyone want to develop one? Whenever I go to any of the so-called Nigerian “e-commerce” websites, I select stuff I am interested in, click on “checkout” and I am presented with a bank account number where I am to deposit money before I can get my stuff, I am like, jeez!!! whats “e-commerce” about this? How do you expect me to pay in money into the account of an untested company when I could just go to a supermarket or store, select what I want, pay for it and get my goods instantly without any stories? As an analogy, Nigeria’s music scene is so huge today because most people who go into music have this hope that they might just “blow” and make it “big”, because they can see others making big money in the industry. So in the mean time, we better be prepared to seeing little or no innovation and lots of clones of Facebook and a myriad of “SIMPLEMACHINE” forums in Nigeria’s Tech space, just as we have lots of people in the music industry who have no business being there [2].

Notes
[1] In 2004, I did some research and found out that it would cost upwards of #150k to integrate Interswitch web payment gateway into a site. #150K in 2004!!! How many web devs could afford splashing such an amount on just a gateway, minus other day-to-day running costs? I don’t know how much it would cost now, anyway. Dear Interswitch et al, there is more to epayment channels than just ATM’s and POS machines and with the new CBN’s cash withdrawal policy, people, like it or not would be forced to use epayment channels, please “don’t drop the ball”. But if you guys do, which I strongly suspect you will, any of the new mobile money operators should please do to you what Google did to Microsoft in the Web Search Industry.
[2.] Although we have some gems in the Nigerian music scene, like 70% of them there now have no business being near a microphone. Terry G, I am looking at you!

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4 thoughts on “Number One Reason Why The Nigerian Tech Scene won’t “BLOW”!!!

  1. Forget Interswitch. Are we not supposed to have a National Switch? Interswitch is NOT the National Switch. They are a private company whose days are numbered and wants to squeeze the last drop from the lemon.

    The problem is our regulator in the payment space CBN. We worked on a project better than Interswitch that would have been a true e-commerce platform that integrates mobile web and card but special interest politics killed it.

    CBN is the culprit here and I wont blame them because in Nigeria security is not one of the concerns, it is the MAIN concern. Visa and Mastercard have a role to play in this as well and I believe the company that had as much power as Interswitch but did nothing is Valucard partly owned by Visa. Valucard failed us all.

  2. There are new payment gateways all the time, you people seem to forget that nigeria has an emerging market and it is only a matter of time. I am currently researching, and the article is somewhat negative take on a billion dollar market, Nigeria is developing all the time, and investment into online business is the way forward as Nigerians have the largest online users in the whole of Africa. For alternative payment gateways to interswitch but that use the interswitch platform you can try webpay by GTBANK which is 70k and http://www.eyowo.com which i heard is 50k.

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