We’ve spoken to the Zimbabwe Internet Service Providers Association (ZISPA) about the difficulties of registering a .co.zw domain name. In an interview, Troy Prinsloo the current ZISPA chairman explained to us that they are working to address one of the main problems with domain registration in Zimbabwe, which is that it takes too long. Two to three days, even more sometimes.
We also had the opportunity to speak to one executive at one of the bigger ISPs locally and he told us their company is also working on a system to make domain registrations faster.
We welcome all this and we’re glad ZISPA and the individual ISPs know we need this addressed. We’d also like to come in and throw some suggestions for web entrepreneurs, ISPs and ZISPA itself to consider.
Why don’t we link the domains to mobile phone numbers?
A mobile phone number is the one thing that anyone registering a domain name has. The great thing here is that, thanks to POTRAZ’s SIM registration exercise that was completed earlier this year, mobile numbers can identify individuals almost accurately. At least they can be traced to a single individual. The mobile operators already have subscriber identification documents, so ZISPA doesn’t need to collect this information all over again; they can get it from POTRAZ when they need to.
The registration process can go something like this:
- A customer visits domain registrars website and checks if a domain is available
- If available, they click to buy the domain
- Website requests the customers details including mobile phone number
- Website sends an SMS text message to the customer with a verification code, which the customer must immediately enter on the website to verify their identity.
- Once verified the customer makes payment (physically, or by whatever other means) and as soon as the registrar verifies payment, the domain is registered. The actual process of registering the domain can just be by a click on button by the registrar.
As it is, it’s just the payment process that will make the domain registration process last longer than a few seconds. Now, considering companies like ZimSwitch are working on internet payment gateways for Zimbabwe, this part of the problem will most likely be dealt with in the coming months.
We think the opportunity is more for web entrepreneurs than ZISPA. ZISPA is non-profit and doesn’t charge ISPs for domain registration, the solution needs to come from the entrepreneurs themselves and they can approach ZISPA to implement it. We’re sure ZISPA would happily accept.
Our suggestion is not new or unique. You will probably find examples of solutions where phone numbers have loosely replaced heaps of paperwork. It also not exhaustive; there are some issues that developers of such a solution will need to look at which we don’t mention here. We just know that a huge part of the problem is this:
… and that mobile phone numbers can help.
If you have more suggestions on how the process can improve, please share in the comments below.