After we got a scoop from VTN about their new m-payment platform, we were given the application to test. We asked some questions which we thought might be on minds of most consumer’s The CEO Peter Ojo, responded to our questions;
Q-What structure do you currently have on ground to effectively reach mainstream in the country?
Answer: There are 7 main actors in mobile payment service: below are the roles of 5 of them (excluding the users and settlement banks).
The mobile payment licensed operator, the provider of and manager of the mobile payment platform. VTN is responsible for ensuring platform availability and 99%+ uptime, marketing and branding, ongoing provision of the platform, ultimate funding and regulatory compliance.
Benefits: per transaction commission.
A business that oversees the Master agent activities, purchases e-money (reload cards) and then resells them in bulk to Master agents, who in turn sell it at their shops to end users or sub agents. Superagents are ultimately responsible for ensuring that Master agents adhere to our branding standards.
Benefit: per transaction commission/ Reload card commission split
Aggregator (Superagent employees)
A person or business responsible for recruiting and training new mobile money agents (and ongoing training of existing agents). Aggregators are also responsible for executing agent point branding. Superagents delegate the role of ongoing training to Aggregators. Aggregators can be a unit of Superagents but with autonomy over their respective roles.
Benefit: Aggregators are remunerated by Superagents. Per their agreement
A person or business contracted to facilitate transactions for users. The most important of these transactions are cash-in and cash-out (i.e. loading value into the mobile money system, and then converting it back out again). In many instances, Master agents register new customers at their shops on VTN’s platform through the Master agent’s interface. They also often provide front-line customer service-such as teaching new users how to install the mobile app and initiate transactions on their phone.
Benefits: per transaction commission/ reload card commission split and monetary Incentives for enrolling new users.
A person or business who buys VTN reload cards from Master Agents at a discount and sells them in store or on the street. Sub Agents are recruited by Master Agents at their discretion.
Benefit: reload card commission split
Your question, though, is about what we have on the ground today and what we have is a working payment platform, with interfaces for the players listed above and a full suite of working mobile apps. We also have existing users of our ecommerce platform and an increasing numbers of agent applicants. We have pre-identified some of the businesses and individuals who will fill these roles and we are awaiting regulatory approval for market introduction of the mobile payment.
Question: Is it possible to download straight without having to receive the download link via sms
Answer: Yes, if you have browsing capability on your mobile phone, then you can download the app directly online. It’s the same as following the url sent via sms, but without the cost of sending sms. It is also possible to download on your computer and install via a cable. This is especially beneficial to those who don’t have internet access or agents who may be installing for hundreds of users per day.
Question: What are the criteria and benefits of becoming a beta tester?
Answer: There are no criteria. We select testers at random and incrementally until we make it available to all. The idea is to be able to manage the level of enquiries before making it available to all of VTN members
Testers will be the first to gain insight into what VTN Mobile Pro is about and what lies ahead. They will be the first to move money from their VTN account to another account anywhere from their mobile phones.
Question: How do you think this new system will transform the market?
Answer- This is a prelude to the Mobile Payment services soon to commence in Nigeria. The ability to send money from your mobile phone to another person in Nigeria or outside Nigeria without compromising your bank account (if you have one) has many benefits: security, freedom, cost savings, time management, etc.
If I can stay at home or in my office and send money to pay a bill without going to the Bank, that is huge! If I can punch a few buttons on my phone and send money to a friend or family without leaving my seat, that is a phenomenon in Nigeria! What this means is that, instead of waiting or postponing sending a few naira to somebody because of the efforts involved, all of a sudden that wouldn’t matter because you can send money on your mobile phone!
Mobile payment is a sure way for the economy to move forward rapidly because it allows decisions about commerce transactions to occur faster.
If there are no impediments and no excuses not to send that money right away, say “oh the bank is closed” , or excuses about traffic or the fact that the recipient does not have a bank account or banks with another bank, then the recipient will have the money right away and then use it right away. You see, it’s all about how fast the money can move securely in the economy.
Question: How robust and secure is your new mobile payment system?
Answer: VTN Mobile Pro is very secure. Customer information is not stored on the handset. Each transaction requires a PIN, which is encrypted during transport to VTNs gateway. Also, there is a 1-1 relationship between the VTN account and the phone number used. Even if your PIN is compromised, another party cannot initiate a transaction from their phone; the system will reject such request. On the VTN gateway online, and as we’ve demonstrated in the past, customers can add an additional layer of security to their account. This form of security can stop any form of potential intrusion even if your password or PIN is compromised. You can even be monitoring all the futile efforts by the intruder live on your phone!
This has never been done before in Nigeria.
The VTN Mobile Pro, a product of 7 years of combined work, is designed to be very light, so what we have done is focus on the core areas that matter to the user. A typical user wants to send money, check their balance, top up their mobile and interact with VTN support in real-time.
VTN Mobile Pro is a suite of apps, one of which will work on any mobile phone in Nigeria. We are committed to a continual development process, keeping current with new handset models as they are introduced to the market.
What these apps do is allow access to our payment platform, which we have operated in Nigeria for the past two and a half years. A payment platform, to us, is like a computer hardware manufacturing plant. The mobile application, to us, is like a gate to enter the plant, and there are different possible gates:
-Internet via IP protocol
What we have been building for years is the manufacturing plant itself and we have shown over and over again that we have a working factory. Now is the time to open another gate for VTN users to interact with their accounts via their phones. We believe this mobile component will be extremely important, however, for the present and foreseeable future it will not be as robust if you compare to online access.
Internet access is wide, broad and can allow unbelievable amounts of different services to be leveraged on it. For example we have merchants who have thousands of subscribers who pay for services on a monthly basis. The customers don’t run around worrying about how to make payments monthly. The system handles recurring billing by debiting their account monthly and crediting the account of the merchant. You can’t do that efficiently on your mobile phone especially when membership is suspended for non payment and you have to renew. It’s just not friendly on mobile phones, so therefore internet access is a key part of the whole process.
We await public availability of the application.