Kenyan traders eye fibre optic cable

October 19, 2009

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 19 – The uptake of electronic trading in the country is set to rise soon with the increased usage of the internet following the launch of fibre optic cables.

Verviant Consulting Services Chief Executive Officer Agosta Liko said although its adoption has been slow, the trend is likely to change as more Kenyans begin to enjoy the benefits that come with embracing e-commerce.

“I call it ‘new commerce’ because e-commerce was the era of credit cards and all. We will own this era where I should be able to pay for mangoes from Mombasa and pick them in Nairobi. I see it becoming the way by which we buy,” he projected.

Mr Liko said this development would most likely be driven by increased competition, the need to ease the cost of doing business and remain competitive.

“From this point going forward, people are going to see how they can make money from the internet, how you can save operational costs and how customers will be willing to pay on time,” he said.

This will also revolutionalise many sectors of the economy by changing how business is done.

For instance, instead of having sale agents selling insurance policies, he reckoned that it would be easy for a firm to have a website where anyone wishing to purchase a cover would be able to key in their relevant details and pay for their premiums electronically.

“This is a more efficient way of doing business as opposed to having 400 people walking all over the city intercepting you with applications, this is very capital intensive,” he argued.

Mr Liko spoke to Capital Business where he disclosed that his company would soon introduce into the market a product dubbed ‘PesaPal’ that will ride on the back of the current money transfer services and provides a solution through which people can electronically pay for their goods and services.

“We have looked at the research that has been done on what people want out of their money transfer service and what enhancements there are and we are meeting that need with PesaPal,” Mr Liko said.

The development of this service, he explained was prompted by the need to provide Kenyans with a reliable, convenient and efficient way to pay for goods and services.

“You just go onto a website, adds the goods (they want to buy) into a shopping cart, when they click ‘check out’ it sends them to our servers where they make a payment based on the instructions on our website. As soon as we verify the payment using our hardware and software, we are able to electronically notify the merchant’s website that the payment has been done then they can release the goods,” he explained.

The process, he added would not only be convenient but would also save time and money while traders would record high margins.

“That guy from Bungoma should be able to go to visit say a Sony website, and buy a radio at the same price that someone in Nairobi pays for. He saved time and money while Sony has sold a radio without having a space on Kimathi Street,” he explained.

While he appreciated that this service would require the masses that it targets to be internet savvy, Mr Liko said they would first focus on those who have basic internet knowledge.

“We are starting at point zero, we are under no illusion that we will find a field that is organised, we are trying to bring sanity into the field,” the CEO added pointing to the wide use of M-Pesa and Zap services just a few years after their launch.

“The adoption of this type of trading is probably the biggest boost that could help unlock Kenya’s potential and transform the state into an industrialised economy in the next few years,” he said.

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