West Africa ePayment Opportunity: Video Interview with Oluniyi David Ajao

I was interviewed by Wayan Vota of ICTworks.org during the recent Maker Faire Africa 2009 in Accra Ghana and we discussed the present e-payment challenges in West Africa. A challenge that presents an opportunity since Paypal is ignoring Africa. The interview has just been published in a post titled: “Google & Paypal Leaving Cash on the Table: ePayment Business Opportunity in Africa“.

ICTworks aims to be a premier resource for sharing and expanding knowledge on appropriate information and communication technologies (ICT) and the implementation processes that can make them sustainable in rural and underserved communities across the developing world.

Enjoy the video below:

What are your views about ePayment in Africa and what is the way forward? Share your thoughts.

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Oluniyi D. Ajao
Oluniyi D. Ajao is an Internet Entrepreneur and Tech Enthusiast based in South Africa. Follow him on twitter @niyyie for more tech updates.


  1. These are some of the issues we discussed at the ICT innovation conference today. It is just a challenge. The CEO of DreamOval promised he was going to come up with his i-wallet pretty soon. That was somewhat reassuring. but…!!!!!

      • I think most of the services failed, because they failed to develop a proper integration to shopping carts,and usually expect merchants to develop their own integration system from ground up. Those gateways that actually have plugins and modules for merchants are very expensive, hence businesses choose not to use them.

        I think if an African payment gateway limits itself to accepting Credit Cards, it would fail because, that is actually adding up to the existing problem. Africans do not have access to credit cards or even debit cards.

        I think the concept that could probably work is either a prepaid card system that works with the gateways, with cards available at their usable cost or an integration of the mobile phone payment technology on the web.

        The prepaid card system can have merchants that offer them at their cost price and earnings could be made through the transactions, and since its prepaid it could be resold on portals integrated on existing gateways like paypal etc and reused to pay on portals that are finding it difficult to use those gateways.

        A similar concept of cashu the middle eastern payment gateway might work.

        • I second Kayode on this. A prepaid card system has a greater chance of achieving our expected levels of success in this ePayment business.

          Imagine a system where to pay online( or via your phone) all you need to do is scratch a card and input some 13 digits on a web form (or your phone’s keypad) to buy that ebook you like, pay for water, electricity, subscriptions , etc etc…

          This however works for small monetary value transactions, which I presume, is what most Africans will be able to afford.

          Now the few who can afford more are usually banked and have cards. That’s where the VISA and Mastercard integration comes in handy.

          Though technically these seem possible on the surface, there are lots of regulatory restrictions, lack of cooperation, and too much money at stake rendering ePayment in Africa an unnecessarily Herculian task.

  2. Edward,

    I have heard a lot of talk about ePayment systems, but until someone actually develops one, I stand behind my post – there is money on the table. Who will pick it up?

    • I couldn’t agree with you more but rolling out a pan-African e-commerce system would be very capital intensive as African is the 2nd largest continent and contains 53 countries. This is why a global financial institution company with a strong financial muscle would have been ideal.

  3. Ok left me touch on the piont in the video 2:14 (when e-commece is very high)
    How does that happen when we are in a country where every is massivly over priced?. whats the point of buying something f0r 1 Ghana cedie and paying 6 to 10 cedie to post it via EMS or DHL? with bad postal address systems in Ghana it would be deleivered to where. lets say someone orders from nima. its just cheaper and safer for me to go down and pick it up myself, we live in a country where refuns are not an option then you wonder why pay-pal dont want west Africa.
    This video is useless

      • Thank you. you are right and that is the message I was expecting from the video and sorry about my statement saying the “video is useless”.
        It just comes down to a Bank to develop a good online banking product to offer to retailers because there is money to be made and an improved cost effective postal network system. I dont see why we can not create our own palpal system for Ghana linked to the banking E-wich system.

        • About the video, I was responding directly to questions asked by the interviewer. I fully understand the challenges that exist in Ghana relative to e-commerce. May have attempted e-commerce in Ghana and failed miserably. That notwithstanding, I believe e-commerce would find its place if it were to fully exist right now. People would find a use for it. For now, its still more feasible to go buy your physical items from stores around you than to shop online and wait for it to be delivered.

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