Making micropayments with airtime eliminates concerns on card security

FinTech has become a major disruptor in how people make payments in Nigeria, but today, one service provider is taking it a ‘notch lower’ by focusing on micropayments. Hugo Obi, Founder, Maliyo Games and MonaPay, had a chat with Caleb Ojewale on the future of making payments for digital content across different platforms.

What is Monapay all about?

Monapay is an airtime payment solution for digital content. It enables digital content producers to monetize or get people to pay for their content using their airtime.

Can you give some examples of this?

A great example is a video game. If you’re a video game producer, and you want to charge people N100, N200 etc for your game, any transaction below N1000 is what we classify as micropayment. So, if you want to charge people that kind of low amount, they are not going to want to use their cards, and the most ideal medium for charging people for such is through their airtime. Our system also allows a developer to integrate a payment gateway into their app, and bill in-app.

On one hand you have content producers who want people to pay for their content, with the price point for their content as N1000 and below, and they know most people who want to make payment in hundred naira values are not going pay using their cards. So we solve a problem by providing a tool they can integrate and charge.

The flipside of that are the customers. So you’re listening to a music track which costs N50 to download, or you want to watch a movie which would cost N100. You’re not about to bring out your ATM Card to be punching numbers. Or perhaps, your child is playing games on your device and wants to buy a character, and asks ‘mommy can I buy this’; if it costs N50 and they will take the money from your airtime, you are likely to allow it so as to make your child happy. But if the child says it costs N50 then asks for your card to make payment, you become more conscious and would rather have the child end such a video game.

So the two sides are; making it easier for customers to pay for micro transactions, and for the developers, using airtime to charge for their goods/services.

What has the response been so far?

It has been greatly positive. We’ve been talking with a lot of game developers, people who are building mobile applications and they are delighted that this solution has been created. We can’t wait for the solution in itself to scale to the market place.

Are you focusing on just this category of people?

We are looking at music, ringback tunes, comics, images, videos. Any content that is digital, and in the context of what we are doing, digital is key. It is for digital content accessible via mobile phones, websites or apps, this is important to note. The second thing is that you have to be charging less than a thousand naira. People will load lower denominations like N500 and when they are being charged for services in that range, it feels a lot easier for them to just say, no problem, I’ll use my airtime to pay for it (instead of a card).

All of this suggests you have an arrangement with the Telcos, is that the case?

At the moment, we are integrated with 9mobile, and we are still building our integration with the other networks. For now, customers on other networks cannot make payments because we have not integrated. Obviously it takes time to build a business relationship and sign agreements, contracts etc, but once we integrate, it is for good.

Lastly, what informed your decision to develop Monapay?

The reason why we built this product is because; ask a developer today, if they want to do airtime billing for any digital product, they needed to meet Telcos, VAS providers etc and have series of meetings, agreements and contracts, without even validating or testing the service. What we have built is a solution that will enable testing and validating of products/services, without talking to any network, not even needing to talk to us, as you can simply visit our website, copy the code, integrate it, and that’s it. People can then give you feedback, and it is also possible to see if they are paying for the services.

We built this solution because as content developers ourselves, when we wanted to experiment with airtime billing, it was very cumbersome. It wasn’t a self-service/do it yourself system, instead, meeting several people. Now, we have built a solution that will enable people to freely implement airtime billing.

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Ezeadichie Onyeka Michael is the Co-Founder of Haelsoft, a Professional Services Company in Nigeria that provides Information and Technology Services for small and big size companies in Nigeria(Africa). He is an Entrepreneur and Venture Capitalist with Expertise in Web Technology and Digital Marketing. He has developed & Implemented Digital Marketing Strategies(Campaigns) for top brands across sectors in Finance, Telecommunication, Ecommerce who operate in the African market. His professional experience includes key roles at Google Business Group(Nigeria), Google Women on the Web (Nigeria), Edubridge Consultant and Wild Fusion where he has trained over 500 Entrepreneurs on how to use various Web Technology products to succeed online. Customer centricity, User Experience, Conversion optimization are 3 pronged framework he applies around the often-frenetic world of web analytics to ensure that clients stay competitive in the market. He believes that investing in talent is the key to long term success for brands across Nigeria (Africa).

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