Monday, July 7, 2008

M-Commerce/E-Commerce in Africa - a contrary view

Well it seems that my post the other day generated an interesting bit of dialogue. One person who chose to remain anonymous says the following about Wizzit:

Unfortunately I am not a fan of Wizzit. I support the mission (to bring financial services to rural people), but the methodology is mortally flawed (in my opinion).
Wizzit is only one side of a bank. They hold customer accounts and they give the cards with which to access these accounts. The missing part is that Wizzit does not provide the acceptance infrastructure. This means that Wizzit customers have to use 3rd party ATMs and branches to access Wizzit services. This works well in South Africa where these 3rd party systems are relatively well spread around and, most importantly, all centrally connected. It will not work anywhere else in Africa because they do not have a Bankserv (central switch) and well distributed infrastructure. It also makes their services tend to be expensive because they have to pay "carriage fees" to these 3rd parties. So while the services of Wizzit are very cheap, the net cost to the customer is still pricey.

Wizzit has become the pet of elites who parade it around in order to elevate their own status. I think Brian Richardson is genuinely dedicated to the cause, but has been hijacked by "fame and funding" set.
Joseph Manthi in a separate rejoinder says:
What I see as being an important driving factors towards achieving pure e/m commerce in our neck of the continent is as follows:
  1. A technology agnostic systems that will interface with all the banks, card issuer, business and mom/pop stores. XML/XSL as a technology comes to mind.
  2. First responders - business on the cusp of greatness that are willing to test these systems
  3. The infrastructure, cheaply available, that will support this new paradigm
  4. The practice of e/m commerce
  5. And then the legal framework. English common adage: Occupation is 9/10 of the law. The law will follow the practice.
This is clearly an area that is generating a lot of attention and one whose developments I hope to track.

No comments: