Overcoming the payments hurdle for Nigerian e-commerce
Nigeria is not “business as usual” for new entrants to the market – but, according to Robin Philip of payment services provider PayGate, for global eCommerce providers there are many opportunities if you have the right supporting network of partners and suppliers.
Philip said setting up in Nigeria has proven to be extremely challenging for online retailers in particular.
He said: “As in most African markets, Nigeria has a complex and atypical payments environment. Credit cards are rare, and there is a wide range of branded and proprietary debit cards and payment methods available on different networks which must be brought together cohesively.”
To make matters more complicated, Philip explained that there is no unified payment switch or local equivalent of South Africa’s Bankserv where online payments can be cleared.
Therefore, Anybody setting up to take online payments has to configure their payment offering from scratch and make multiple links and integrations to different networks.
Philip said this creates an opportunity for payment services providers like PayGate to play an important facilitating role.
“Online retailers from outside the continent will find that going direct for their payments is extremely expensive, time-consuming and difficult to manage,” he said.
It makes sense for us, as a payment services provider, to knit those multiple integrations and relationships together into a single package that works.”
The task is challenging, said Philip, but by no means impossible: He added: “The Nigerian environment on the whole is challenging, and visiting Lagos (the New York of Africa) is an interesting experience, not for the fainthearted — but when it comes to business, there’s a difference.
“Once the personal contact has been made and there’s an agreement to do business together, things move fast. They are very driven.”
Philip concluded that with 170 million connected consumers it makes the extra effort worthwhile. He said: “Lagos and Nigeria are really starting to take off as a global business destination. We believe there’s a window period of three to four years to establish a strong presence in the Nigerian market”.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.