By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha
The absence of an electronic payment system, defined as a means of making payments over an electronic network such as the Internet, is hampering enterprising Zimbabwe from reaping the full benefits of the technological up-leap.
“If people cannot make online transactions, they’re highly disadvantaged in today’s interconnected world. The essence of online transaction is to enable efficient money transfers in a global scope, it becomes a disadvantage for countries that do not have online payment systems because such countries are not able to compete at a global scale,” said Bethel Goka, an technologist in Harare.
To complicate matters, Paypal, one of the world’s leading online payment and money transfer systems is currently barred in Zimbabwe. PayPal, which is based in the US, says it cannot open user accounts for Zimbabweans because the US Treasury has barred them from doing so.
This is the error message that one gets from PayPal if they try to access its services or register from Zimbabwe: “Error 3028. You have accessed your account from a sanctioned country. Per international sanctions regulations, you are not authorized to access the PayPal system. For more information about your PayPal account status, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Today, many Zimbabwean businesses are interested in maintaining an online presence but, unfortunately, they are not reaping the full benefits of being online because no framework exists in the country to support electronic commerce otherwise known as e-commerce.
As long as Zimbabwe does not adopt an online payment system, businesses will not achieve tangible results for the investments that they’re making online. In fact, the absence of an online payment system could explain why local businesses are reluctant to invest in building efficient website because monetization of websites is non-existent.
Online payment systems include the traditional credit, debit and charge card but also new technologies such as digital wallets, e-cash, mobile paymentand e-checks. With the exception of mobile cash, which was introduced recently, Zimbabwe does not have credit cards that you can order things online. As the country invests more in technology, changes need to happen to address this anomaly.