It is said the best startup idea is one which solves a personal pain the founder has. Not only does this mean they are solving a real problem, but usually also means they have the determination to go through what it takes to see the difficult process through to the having a working solution. The Paynow story is no different. Webdev – the company behind Paynow – told us in an interview recently that they needed an internet payment solution for their own web properties and this drove them to build Paynow.
Mathew Hood, technical lead on the Paynow project, said that their classifieds product, arguably the largest online property in Zimbabwe (outside of news sites) is where the idea Paynow come from. “That is what started the idea of looking into online payments. Can we monetize the merchants on classifieds? On top of that, Webdev also has a lot of subscription services and will be adding a lot more subscriptions services now that we have online payments.”
Hood explained that customers found it hard to pay small amounts of money for web related subscription services that Webdev offers. We would know because we have a number of domains with them and paying for these meant withdrawing cash, physically going there and getting receipted. Paynow solves this problem.
Webdev sales & operations director, Vusi Ndebele, whom we interviewed along with Hood explained to us that Paynow being a product solving their own pain enabled them to not look at it as a short term solution to make money off directly. Making any profit from providing a payments solution in Zimbabwe, for anyone, he said, is a long term thing as there’s none to be made right now: “We built Paynow because we needed Paynow for the other projects that we wanted to do, rather than Paynow itself being a profitable business.”
Paynow, which just launched, is the first online payments solution in Zimbabwe to provide mobile money payments with direct official connection to the APIs. In addition to EcoCash, the gateway also has VISA and Vpayments live and these are all through official direct integration.
Classifieds itself doesn’t have Paynow integration yet but the Webdev team says they are about to launch it. Online payments, Ndebele said, will allow them to monetise individual low value listings and there could be a mix of premium subscriptions (the model now) and transaction based fees. Currently, individuals consumers advertising on the platform do not pay any anything and have their adverts listed at the bottom of any searches. Monthly premium subscribers, usually companies, get preference. This has made classifieds stronger as as B2C marketplace.
The interview is this week’s podcast and will be posted here in full a little later today, so do check back.