Technology

Firm takes Online pay services across Africa

ERAN

Eran Feinstein, founder CEO of Direct Pay Online. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG

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Summary

  • Direct Pay set to expand to 24 countries, partly fuelled by Sh1.5 billion funding from UK-based Apis Partners.

Direct Pay Online (DPO) has ambitious plans for expansion into the African market.

The company says it will double its footprint to 24 countries by the end of 2018, partly fuelled by about Sh1.5 billion that it has received from the UK-based Apis Partners in two investment rounds over the last two years.

To hear Direct Pay founder CEO Eran Feinstein speak about the company’s future plans, it is easy to forget that the firm is just 11 years old.

In 2006, Mr Feinstein, an Israeli by birth, got together with his partners on a mission to make online payment easy and stress-free on the continent.

In previous interviews, Mr Feinstein expressed surprise at the lack of payment options in the local and regional markets. The first project on the continent was implementing an online payment system with an airline.

His team delivered to a tee, an achievement that assured him of the validity of the business model in Africa.

“For us, Kenya is the hub for Africa. We came with a clear mission to help develop solutions to help customers pay easily online,” said Mr Feinstein. “After the first contract it became clear that there was a need for customers to make online payments regardless of their location.

‘‘The payment solution we came up with supports varied options including mobile money, something that gave merchants and customers enough choices.” Since those early days Direct Pay Online, formerly known as 3G Direct, has grown, helping businesses in a range of sectors to process their payments.

The technology supports payments including bank transfers, e-wallets, and cards through web and mobile platforms.

The firm is a registered payments facilitator, third party agent and a payment gateway.

Direct Pay has over 30,000 merchants spread across 12 countries, cutting across all sectors of the economy. Kenya alone boasts of about 3,000 merchants.

The company’s other markets include Tanzania, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

DPO is now looking to grow its merchant numbers to 200,000 by entering 12 new markets in Africa. These markets, said Mr Feinstein, are ready for online payment solutions.

“Everywhere we go the merchants want to offer diversity in payment options, they all accept cash but they know that that is not enough.

‘‘We are doing aggressive marketing online and by directly reaching out to them and making our case,” he said.

Direct Pay Online hopes to make acquisitions in East Africa. Mr Feinstein said the company is in talks with potential firms that would bring value aboard.

DPO has so far made five acquisitions after taking up three firms in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.

“In most markets we opt to grow organically, but we are open to making acquisitions. We either buy market share or a technology that will add more functionality to our platform,” he said.

READ: Direct Pay Online attains high level certification

Investing in technology to keep up with new online payment trends is a continuous process for DPO and the firm is in the process of rolling out new technologies that will boost efficiency, add more functionalities to its solutions and boast its security.

The firm started working on Internet payment app DumaPay, which helps mobile merchants to accept payments through their phones, about three years ago.

The solution also makes it possible for customers to upload their card details and make payments at merchant points from the app, meaning that they do not need to carry cards every time.

The firm recently partnered with Visa to launch mVisa, a product that allows payments at points-of-sale using QR codes, for smartphones, and short codes for feature phones.

“We keep investing in new technologies to grow our business and we intend to increase efficiency and options for merchants and customers,” said Mr Feinstein.