Everyone knows that online payment system in Nigeria is broken. Paypal, most times, blocks electronic transactions when they emanate from Nigeria. Nigerians are still finding it hard to buy things online. A young man is out to solve that problem by making it easier for web developers to seamlessly integrate payment systems on their websites. That way, people can electronically pay for goods and services online. With simple codes, a developer will setup a website to collect payment. Hey, the freemium model we are forced to embrace without option to collect payment is ending soon. There are about three players in the industry right now in Nigeria: CashEnvoy, Eyowo and VoguePay. Among the three, VoguePay is bringing some geeky enthusiasm in this young sector. It is possible we have Stripe with us. People, Tekedia is proud to present the Founder of VoguePay, Mr. Leke Ojikutu. This guy rocks in the tech universe.
Tekedia: Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today. We have read your accomplishments and found them very inspiring. Let us begin by asking your name and background.
Leke: My name is Leke Ojikutu. I am a programmer, software developer and entrepreneur. I started out with Lojik Technologies; a call center opened on a borrowed mobile phone in 2003. In 2007, I registered AFRISOFT Interactive but was unable to fund it, so i worked for Xpedition NG and Bluebox Macromedia before joining Lagos State Internal Revenue Service in June 2008. At LIRS, i developed the Lagos State Tax Audit Database (acclaimed to be one of the largest databases in Nigeria) in use till date. I resigned from LIRS by May 2010 to re-start AFRISOFT Interactive with only N30, 000 I had in savings. I was able to attract investors to the company. Today, we are valued a little higher than N20 Million.
Very impressive. We have spent time on your site and are amassed on the progress you have made on AFRISOFT and especially VoguePay. Can you tell us about VoguePay and its products and services.
VoguePay is a unique online payment processor owned by AFRISOFT Interactive. We have a vision to offer buyers and sellers a secure and easy-to-use means of transacting business online. At VoguePay, we believe that receiving money on a website should be easy enough for anyone to implement, this explains why we have carefully created several tools to make integration of VoguePay into your site a snap.
Yes, we have signed up and truly commend you. Can you share the motivation for starting this company
If Nigeria is to go cashless, there has to be a way for businesses to accept payment from remote buyers without buyers going to pay cash into seller’s bank account. Basically, we created VoguePay in response to our business need. As a software company, we needed a payment solution that can allow us to sell online real time with suitable payment processor that incorporates multiple credit/debit cards without limiting the merchants.
We couldn’t find a worthy platform, so we created one. We created a new standard for payment. We launched what is now the biggest payment processor in Nigeria with over 2300 registered Merchant base and over 1000 websites linking into it, all within 3 months.
Interesting. It was the same motivation that Stripe had and they hope to change America in the sector. We are happy you are doing same here. So, what is VoguePay doing and what are your future plans in this quest to change the nation payment system.
As a group, AFRISOFT Interactive has grown to become a global company. With software sales in Nigeria, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Canada, France, U.S.A, U.K, India and several other countries, we have broken every encountered barrier and built sustainable bridges that have connected us to the world. With a valuation of N20 Million and over 6000% growth rate per year (in 2011), we do not plan to watch the future unfold, we are already creating it.
“We are creating a new standard for online solutions, redefining client-company relationship, and restructuring the image of Nigerian businesses online.”
We like that quote. But in this grand mission, there will be challenges. What are the challenges including any CBN related one. You know Nigeria’s Central Bank is out there to ensure the industry develops with order.
- The first challenge was the transaction limitation. Interswitch imposed N3, 000.00 maximum single transaction limits on some forms of online businesses labeled “High risk online businesses”; this includes Bulk SMS and Recharge card businesses. I believe this is a setback for the cashless policy being introduced by CBN. We have assured our merchants that we will find a way to relax this limit and we are presently trying to find a way.
- The second major challenge was the issue of payment integration with websites. Most online entrepreneurs are not programmers and payment integration requires programming. We have been able to solve this with our merchant centered approach
- The third challenge was our support system. With the fast growth rate of VoguePay, the support requests became very enormous. We have recruited new staff and now have a continuous training process for every staff and this is paying off well.
Now, what makes you different from your competitors, local and foreign including Google Checkout and Paypal?
VoguePay distinguishes itself from Google Checkout and PayPal in some unique ways. We did not set out to copy, we set out to innovate. This is evident with some of our features listed below:
- We are Nigerians and we accept Nigerians.
Nigerians have been identified with fraud online by many payment solutions and this has caused PayPal and other payment processors to ban Nigerians from using their service. We have our own creative solutions. Built by us, built for us and that accepts us.
- We pay into Nigerian banks
Despite Google’s presence in Nigeria; Google Checkout still does not make payments into Nigerian merchant accounts. The same goes with PayPal. VoguePay pays into Nigerian bank accounts and we have paid millions of Naira into savings and current accounts with Nigerian banks.
- SMS-enabled transaction (TEXT-DIRECT)
VoguePay allows transactions without the need for internet connection. Merchants can transfer money, check balance, withdraw to bank, request for payment, send invoice and perform a few other tasks by SMS. No internet required. Google checkout and PayPal do not yet have these features.
- Mobile Apps
With VoguePay, you don’t need to worry if you don’t have a computer around you. VoguePay has feature rich mobile applications for popular mobile platforms like Blackberry, Android, and Symbian etc.
- VoguePay affiliate program
VoguePay pays you commission for life on any new merchant you refer to the VoguePay payment processor. This means that every time the person you referred makes sales online, you earn money into your VoguePay wallet.
- SMS and Email transaction alert
You can choose to receive SMS and/or email alerts for every transaction on your account.
- Free installation/integration on your website
For those that do not know how to write computer programs, they can use any of our free code generation tools. They are very user friendly. Our professional programmers can also do it for you. For free!
May we ask if you have any serious local competitor? And how do plan to innovate to stay ahead?
There are a few websites offering payment processing in Nigeria, but when you do a fair comparison of what they have to offer, they are far from being real competitors. Our real competitors are from bigger economies. In a few months from now, we would be competing globally against the giants of payment processing worldwide. That is where we are headed.
Simply, what motivates you?
Our motivation and drive comes from two different sources:
- God given vision
Our vision is God given. Everything we do is centered on our God given vision.
We have the best team in the world! We are like one big family. In fact, some of our most successful projects are named by staff. The name, “VoguePay” was christened by an I.T student that worked with the company. Our staffs are our real assets. Although, I am the C.E.O, almost every staff can run the company just fine or even better.
I will leave you with these quotes that I cherish
Take action on your ideas today. Take the first step, it’s what matters most. Because it does not matter what you know, it is what you do with what you know that counts.
Don’t let fear hold down your destiny. If you are not acting on your ideas today, you might wake up tomorrow to find out that someone else has turned billionaire by that same idea.
Be courageous. Courage is not the absence of fear but the will to go on despite the presence of fear.
The world awaits your manifestation! Arise!! Shine!!!
That is it. Thank you for speaking with Tekedia.
Thanks for the opportunity!