Electronic payment services in Africa have been unheard of for many years.
With companies such as PayPal giving the majority of the continent a wide berth, many Africans and businesses on the continent have found it hard to interact in the global e-commerce market.
For some this was a disadvantage but for Danson Muchemi this became an opportunity to exploit a need. With the huge success of mobile money transfers in Kenya, Muchemi dove into one of the most sensitive areas in ecommerce and JamboPay an online payment solutions was born.
Four years later, Muchemi is one of the few techies providing Africa with an option on online payments, through his company Web Tribe. Through their brand JamboPay, the company now has 700 businesses working with them with over 100,000 users on their platform.
ITWeb Africa Kenya contributor Vincent Matinde spoke to Muchemi about his business in Africa.
VINCENT MATINDE: When and how did Web Tribe begin?
DANSON MUCHEMI: We founded Web Tribe early 2009 as a payments systems integrations company, network security consultants and e-payments services providers. I joined hands with a long time university friend to set up the company. JamboPay was born the same year.
VINCENT MATINDE: What motivated the company to begin JamboPay?
DANSON MUCHEMI: Up to 2008, we did not have a Kenyan Online Payment gateway that could process e-commerce and other online payments. We moved in to bridge this gap. I worked with a Turkish payments firm through which I got some experience in e-payments that further motivated me to start JamboPay.
VINCENT MATINDE: What were the initial struggles that you went through?
DANSON MUCHEMI: Getting business organisations to trust us with their revenue collection was a big challenge we had to overcome.
Another challenge was getting banks to accept to partner with us in e-payments services provision. Getting central bank's approvals to offer the service took substantial time as well and just like many other starting organisations, starting capital was not always there..in fact capital was always not there.
VINCENT MATINDE: What pushed you along to conquer some of the challenges you faced?
DANSON MUCHEMI: The belief in our dream for a cashless and prepaid future kept us going. This dream still does motivate us. We believe we have to keep working until we see a prepaid and cashless Africa.
VINCENT MATINDE: Were there times you felt that your solution wasn't going to work?
DANSON MUCHEMI: No. I have never doubted our solutions, our model and the opportunity. Prior to setting up Web Tribe I had set up other businesses and confidence in self had been built.
VINCENT MATINDE: What are some of the offerings that JamboPay gives?
DANSON MUCHEMI: JamboPay provides, e-payments services for e-commerce players, we have a till/over the counter mobile payments acceptance service, bill payments service, we provide e-ticketing services and electronic cash disbursement services.
The JamboPay service aggregates multiple payment channels such as M-PESA, Airtel Money, yuCASH, Orange Money, VISA and MasterCard debit and credit cards as well as direct bank account debit/Crediting.
We are network security consultants and also do provide payments systems integration services.
VINCENT MATINDE: What is your expansion plan across Africa?
DANSON MUCHEMI: We are already in Kenya, Tanzania and Senegal. We are setting up in Uganda and should be operational by last Quarter of 2013. We have some regional clients such as the Nation Media Group and Uchumi Supermarkets that we to provide services to in all the countries they operate. This means Rwanda and Burundi are also in pipeline. Through our Dakar office, we plan to grow into West Africa in the next 2 years.
VINCENT MATINDE: What level of education does one need to launch such a company in Africa?
DANSON MUCHEMI: A key requirement in a good knowledge in regulatory frameworks of e-payments in various African state. I personally undertook a degree in BSC in Telecommunication and Information Technology at Kenyatta University which prepared me well for the industry. Any I.T, or Information Systems graduate would fit in the sector. Specialised kkills in e-payments and network security would be an added advantage. Today we have experts in various disciplines handling various organisational units.
VINCENT MATINDE: What are some of the things the company has done to make it different from its competitors in the African space?
DANSON MUCHEMI: We aggregate many payments channels thus adding a lot of value to merchants and providing users with many options to pay through. Through this value addition we have created good relationships with otherwise would be competitors. We also provide integration of our payment gateway to 3rd party systems thus enabling business organisations to realise full benefits of e-payments. We have localised payments in all markets we operate.
VINCENT MATINDE: Do you think African investors are putting money in their own tech startups and what is hindering more to join?
DANSON MUCHEMI: There are very few African Investors putting money in African tech startups. I think we have more European and American investors in tech start ups than African. This could be attributed to preference by many Africans to brick and mortar Investments and other tangible investments. We need more success stories for the African Investor. The suggested alternative listing at some stock markets in Africa could encourage more African investors.
VINCENT MATINDE: What would you tell a young upcoming entrepreneur to do if they want succeed as you have?
DANSON MUCHEMI: Key to success is Identifying your goals early and persistently pursuing the set goals. To do it well one needs to give extra interest to standards and compliance. That is what will set you apart from the rest. Excellence starts from Inside.
VINCENT MATINDE: Which awards has the company won over the years?
DANSON MUCHEMI: We have recently won the Google Innovation Awards in Financial Services 2013-2014. This confirms our key strengths in Financial Services provision and Innovation.
VINCENT MATINDE: Are there new products the company aiming to launch to change the tech space in Africa?
DANSON MUCHEMI: Yes. A couple of them: some in social payments. We will share with you when we have them ready for market in coming weeks.
VINCENT MATINDE: Is there more information that you would like to share with us?
DANSON MUCHEMI: JamboPay will continue to deliver innovative e-payments services to the great people of our great continent of Africa, we are open to partnerships with banks, service providers, merchants, technology companies and governments to accelerate the growth of Africa though simple and secure payments services.
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