This article is a guest post by Prosper Chikomo. Prosper is an internet entrepreneur and author of the book Turning Iron into Gold: Golden Opportunities.
Having read so many comments and stories here on how you cannot access PayPal services in restricted countries like Zimbabwe, I felt compelled to share how you can use PayPal without having access to PayPal, having no PayPal account, and without the means to create a PayPal account.
With the solution I’m about to explain, you will only be able to sell, that is; accept PayPal payments/purchases, but you will not able to buy from a website that requiring PayPal. Since 23% of online buyers use PayPal, it is better to be able to sell than to buy with PayPal. Better tht than nothing at all.
What this therefore means is that you can sell your stuff on your website, accepting major credit cards like JCB, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, Diners club, and debit cards and even PAYPAL. Please note, the acceptance of credit cards will be independent of PayPal, meaning that even a card from a country that is not supported by PayPal will be accepted for processing.
This, you can do, even if you are in Zimbabwe using a company called 2checkout.com.
But like I said, you will not be able to BUY from a site that requires PayPal because you yourself will not be having a PayPal account.
How 2checkout.com works
2checkout.com acts as a reseller of your products, and it being a U.S. company, it is able to accept PayPal purchases/payments for your goods on your behalf.
2checkout.com is very easy to use. It has no monthly fees, statement fees, or gateway fees. It’s acceptance of PayPal and independently, of other major credit cards, makes is possible for as many people on the planet as possible to be able to buy through it.
When you make sales, in the case of Zimbabwe-based vendors, you can get paid via a cheque or MasterCard credit card linked to 2checkout.com.
About the MasterCard credit card
When you are registered as a vendor with 2checkout.com, you are given the option to receive your income/sales via several methods including a credit card.
In the context of a Zimbabwe, you can only receive payments via SWIFT, cheque, or Payoneer MasterCard.
2checkout.com will only send you a cheque if your sales have reached US$100. However, if your sales reach US$20, you can have the money paid directly into your Payoneer MasterCard.
To get a Payoneer MasterCard, for free, you would need your 2checkout.com vendor number and details of how you apply for it from inside your 2checkout.com account.
Recently FBC introduced some MasterCards. You cannot connect those cards to your 2checkout.com account. You can only do so with a Payoneer MasterCard strictly for 2checkout.com.
You can use the Payoneer MasterCard even on the internet.
How to sell
There are two ways, one is via a “buy now”-type button, and another, if you are using CMS is simply through a plugin where you enter your vendor number etc. APIs are there as well.
Buy Now Buttons
Suppose you sell music downloads. You will create your own website and host the mp3 files in your hosting account. You then login into your 2checkout.com account and create “buy now” buttons which you can paste on your website. The “buy now” button will be linked to your specific mp3 file. When a customer clicks the buy now button, he will be taken to a 2checkout.com page that is linked to your account (via the buy now button) and there he will be asked to submit credit cards details.
Now, if you are in a country that does not have PayPal, you will not see any PayPal page/fields etc., but 2checkout.com accepts PayPal payments in countries supported by PayPal.
If the card payment is successful, after passing some instant fraud screening, payment details and an email link will be sent to the email address of the buyer where the buyer can click the link to begin downloading the file.
In this case, simply add the plugin or activate it, depending on your CMS, and enter the required details and you are ready to go. Some CMSs will put the buy now button for you, or automatically create it for you on your webpage, even linking directly to the download file.
Supported by popular open source content management systems
The advantage of 2checkout.com for Zimbabwean content creators and developers etc. is that it has add-ons/plugins for Joomla and WordPress and other free content management systems.
Supporting open source software which use 2checkout.com include;
Joomla, WordPress, OpenCart, osCommerce, Zen-Cart, PrestaShop, Magento, Interspire Shopping Cart, phpMyDirectory,
For WordPress for example, you can use the following plugins:
- amember http://www.2checkout.com/shopping-cart/amember/
- Tribulant WordPress Shopping Cart Plugin http://www.2checkout.com/shopping-cart/tribulant-wordpress-shopping-cart-plugin/
- Magic Members http://www.2checkout.com/shopping-cart/magic-members/
- Joomla 2Checkout Integrator http://www.2checkout.com/shopping-cart/joomla-2checkout-integrator/
How to apply
Application is very easy, just go on the website. Once your details are captured, you will be required to submit a scanned image of your I.D. you will be required to pay US$49 register, and this can only be paid via credit card. If someone will pay with his/her card for you, please ask 2checkout.com in advance otherwise your transaction can be treated as fraudulent and suspicious and your name blacklisted.
Only Americans can pay via cheque.
But the good news is you have me, and I know something.
To avoid having to pay via a credit card, if you do not have one, google search free sign up for 2checkout.com. 2checkout.com sometimes offers free sign up. In South Africa when 2checkout was introduced, many people signed up for free this way.
There are no monthly fees with 2checkout.com, which saves you paying when you may not be making money.
You only pay 5.5% and $0.45 per sale, which leaves you with most of your cash!
From there, there are some fees which you only later get to know about because they don’t post them on the home page.
For example, there is a certain percentage of all your receipts that is held in reserve for about 180 days. This reserve is kept in case there are customer chargebacks (when a customer requests a refund say for inappropriate charges or card use) – even PayPal has them.
In total, just know that, or reserve, 15% of your sales to all fees if you are looking at withdrawable amount.
What can I sell?
You can sell anything from services, downloads, to hosting and even tangible goods with 2checkout.com. So long as what you sell complies with its prohibited products list. https://www2.2checkout.com/documentation/prohibited.html
My advice and recommendation is that 2checkout works best with downloads and intangible services. I especially favour downloads for the simple reason that you do not have to deal with shipping companies, which could add more to costs due to customer enquiries about delivery etc. Selling downloads is easy, and requires no investment in customer education. And shipping companies can sometimes disappoint.
I also recommend downloads because just think about this.
iTunes pays 70% to artists and developers for content downloaded, selling at US$1 per download. So, if you allow 15% for total 2checkout.com fees (which is not a fixed rule by the way) you will remain with 15% cut.
So let’s take the example of Lobola produced by Big Brother Africa winner, Munya Chidzonga. The guys behind it claim to have sold 100 000 copies in Zimbabwe alone.
Suppose you sell 100 000 copies of Lobola a US$5, and let’s not say US$1 because most international buyers can afford US$5, and just to make the dream more interesting.
You would gross US$500 000, less 2checkout.com fees (5.5% + US$0.45 per sale)and you would remain with around US$427 500. if you then give munya 70% of US$500 000 (US$350 000), you will make a cool US$77 500.
Then add Macheso’s music which sells over 100 000 copies at a time and you have a winner.
2checkout.com also does work well with selling hosting for example.
I know one Zimbabwean hosting company I found that uses 2checkout.com, http://www.mansheb.co.zw. You can visit the site and – notice that the phone numbers are Zimbabwean. That is because 2checkout.com requires you to give customers contact numbers so that they can contact you for any reason. Yeah well, they started using it long after me (he he). And I certainly did not create the site in case you think it is one of my projects.
In South Africa, several hosting companies that do use 2checkout.com.
The best way is always to try it and test the system. So you can go on and make a trial purchase on a site that accepts2checkout.com to see how the whole process works once you have integrated 2checkout.com. You do not have to actually buy, just simply select a product and go through the checkout process and see all the steps involved.
It’s just the same as using PayPal, but in this case, instead of seeing a PayPal payment page at the end, you will see a 2checkout.com payment page, and that is where the customer will enter his/her details.
And when do I get my money?
2checkout.com releases funds every Thursday if they have reached a minimum threshold which is really dependent on the payout method you use.
For example, if you opt to get your payments via cheque, you will need your sales to reach US$100 before you can be sent the cheque, and a cheque carries a charge of US$10.
If you opt to receive payments via a Payoneer MasterCard, your sales would have to reach just US$20 for you to be paid.
So anyone with a brain will choose the Payoneer MasterCard option. Even if you are in Zimbabwe you can have the Payoneer MasterCard. The card will take about 20 days to arrive via ordinary post from the day you apply for it, unless you pay for it to be sent via Fedex.
Is Zimbabwe supported because certainly PayPal doesn’t?
Yes. Already I gave you evidence of a Zimbabwean website that uses 2checkout.com
Other important information
2checkout.com does not allow any prices under US$5. So if you were planning to sell stuff for US$1, you can’t! But where there is a will there is a way.
You can bundle 5 x US$1 products and sell those 5 products as a bundle, which will translate as US$1 each to the customer who will spend US$5 on the bundle.
Otherwise for things like hosting, why would you wanna charge less than US$5, say per month? In any case, if you want to charge US$1 per month for hosting, simply bundle it into say 6 months, which means the buyer will pay US$6, which is above US$5 minimum that 2checkout.com charges.
Another thing is that 2checkout.com does not allow a “Amazon”.
By this I mean it does not allow you to list products in your store which you do not have, but which you get from other suppliers. They just don’t allow it. 2heckout.com wants you to be the owner of the goods you sell. For example, if you are selling a Sony camera, it should be part of your stock and not someone else’s. There is also a reason you would not want to do a “Amazon”. If verification for a payout takes time, it means you delay paying your supplier, who can then sue you, and you cannot sue 2checkoput.com because they don’t allow “Amazon”-style vendors.
Third, you can register on 2checkout.com as an individual.
For more information visit http://www.2checkout.com/faq/