The problem that I see almost 100% of the times when businesses adopt technology for example move online etc is that they do so while maintaining the same paradigms they held. This is usually because tech is introduced as a ‘good idea’ or a ‘keeping up with the trends.’ That perception is not sufficient if the potential of technology is to be realised.
If technological adoption is motivated by the idea that tech is cool then companies just export all their pre-tech process to a tech platform. I see this everyday with migration to cloud or e-commerce or other such internet enabled technologies. This is a failure to realise that the internet has fundamentally changed everything and the assumptions that prevailed before do not necessarily matter anymore. I think C Trade, the online and mobile trading platform for the Zimbabwean capital markets fell in this trap.
When I first wrote about my experience registering for an account I mentioned how clicking the ‘Log In’ button does not log you in or take you to a log in form to enter your username and password. It actually deceives you into thinking you have been logged in. You go straight to the C Trade dashboard BUT it’s nothing but a dummy dashboard because non of your information is there. In very small print it says ‘You must log in first.’ Why are you still telling me to log in first when I clicked a log in button? If you click on this text then the log in form finally appears.
Building stuff on the internet requires that you appreciate how much the internet has changed our culture and behavior. We don’t expect to be tossed about anymore. There is a general flow of how things work and so it’s annoying when someone just introduces an extra step and for no reason.
Mobile number makes better sense than email
The ubiquity of email is an assumption of North America, Europe and other areas. Africa leapfrogged much of the web and went straight to mobile. C Trade requires you to have an email address for you to register. This is not necessary. Even the North American companies like Facebook realised that difference in markets years ago and they allow you to register an account using your mobile number.
It may seem like it’s no big deal but the fact of the matter is a lot of people in Zimbabwe are intimidated by email itself or just don’t have accounts. Asking them to first have an email account is like telling them to wait opening C Trade accounts at best. It’s counter intuitive that C Trade allows registration on their platform using USSD on the assumption that there are people who have feature phones and can’t access the internet. How then will those individuals have email accounts?
The One Time PIN they send you for two factor authentication when logging in is sent to email even when using mobile. That just makes it a hustle man!
Bank accounts should not be a limitation
Again the assumption that a bank account is important to register on the platform does not make sense. C Trade allows you to deposit money using EcoCash and I would assume it should be OK to open an account with EcoCash as one’s ‘bank.’ But no, you have to select a bank from a drop down of banks which does not include EcoCash.
If you don’t know how EcoCash is a bigger bank than the rest put together please buy the Techzim Insights report on the Zimbabwe payments system.
I still haven’t had my shares and I have to figure out why by myself
In July I tried out buying shares and placed an order for a specific counter matching the current price then. My account still lists that transaction as an instruction to buy. There is no communication from anyone why the order is still pending. Of course now it can’t go through because my asking price has been surpassed by the market.
I reached out to customer support on C Trade and their first question was which broker did I select. Now, there’s a problem there. Their platform has commoditized brokers such that I just picked one just so my order goes through. Commoditization is a reality of internet economics. For example, Google search made all newspapers mere commodities, in fact newspaper pages are the commodities- there’s no front page anymore.
C Trade must accept that brokers are now mere commodities and thus the user experience is the responsibility of C Trade and not the brokers. When an instruction has been given by a user whether to buy or to sell then a feedback cycle should be initiated. If the price changes the user must be notified so they know their instruction cannot be performed or for them to make the decision whether to alter instruction or not.
By offering their service online and on mobile, they are declaring that they want the most regular of us to trade and thus the assumption of a sophisticated trader must fall away.
I must commend the online chat by the way. Response was prompt and courteous.
I rant because I care
I have to clarify that my intention is not to shoot down C Trade, I am excited they are doing what they are doing. I am passionate about making participation in capital markets a mainstream thing. That passion drives me to demand a well thought out process that is truly inclusive. Inclusion is not a matter of merely throwing out a platform and then going on a road trip to get people to use it. Inclusion should permeate the design process.
To be frank, the stuff I am calling out is not hard stuff to do, it just requires the exchange of offline assumptions for online ones. That is the hard part.
PS: I mentioned the Techzim Insights report on the payments sector, you can buy it below: