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My Top 5 Payment Gateways in Nigeria 2014

To me, integrating payment platforms has been a fantastic experience and I would really say Nigeria has evolved in terms of payment convenience. There are so many payment platforms in Nigeria and I have worked with many of them (if not all). So, I thought it would be a great idea if I could share my perception of the top five good and secured payment platforms in Nigeria. I would base my assessment on these; integration work flow, vulnerability, documentation, support, setup convenience and limitations. I would list them in an increasing order of significance. So, let's get it started...

I have my review for year 2015 already. You can check it here.

5th. Cash Envoy

So, have I finally added what’s on your mind on my list? Yes, Cash envoy is such a lovely platform. Developers; trust me, you will fall in love with this platform. They have done a pretty good job and we have to commend them. If they do not stop coding, they mirror the future of payment gateway in Nigeria. I have integrated Cash Envoy for many clients to the extent that I now know it like the back of my palm. I have seen them work perfectly on several sites in Nigeria. I have them as the last payment gateway on my list because their implementation work flow (as given by them) is lovely but some nonchalant developers implemented it with room for vulnerability.

Vulnerability

It depends on how you implement it. It is safer if you implement it the way it is described in the documentation and this doesn't mean that there is still no room for some interesting hack.

Documentation

Super and still the best. You don't need to speak with anyone. You will practically find everything you need in the documentation. I love the approach of this company because I never had any reason to contact them all through the integration, until I was going LIVE with the application. You need such experience as a developer and all payment platforms should learn from this company on how to make documentation straight forward and not obscure.

Support

Hummmm…It may take some days before they respond to your mail o. I don't like this about them, even at a time I had to call a friend that knows another friend that knows another friend who had integrated with them few years ago to give me the number of someone working with them. Thank God, he was able to give me the number and that was how I contacted Cash Envoy’s support. They need to work really hard on their support. As developers, when we send a support mail, we don't want to wait. Cash Envoy, having a good documentation doesn't mean you should abolish your support department joor.

Setup Convenience

Automatic! Yes I mean automatic. You don't have to call anybody to get a merchant account. There is a sandbox for your test and the test accounts are made available online. With this, you can’t just be wrong. I see this as a perfect choice for those who need to choose a platform that would not require them to keep calling support. You can have this awesome experience yourself by going to their site. They deserve my kudos for this lovely feature.

Limitations

Your customers need to register with them before they can pay. In my opinion I am not with the school of thought who feels this is the best approach. However, the integration can be vulnerable if the developer is a lazy type.

4th. Pay Attitude

Maybe this is the first time you would encounter “Pay Attitude”. Anyway, you are not alone; I also heard about it 3 years ago (not quite long, right?) Lol. Come on! This is not a platform for just any newbie developer. You’ve got to have guts to get your integration through. On my first encounter with Pay Attitude, they made me have this “must things be this difficult” kind of feeling. I am sure all is in the name of security. Please tell them, Nigerians might be known for Internet scams, we are not yet interested in hard core hacking and even if we are, haba! You can hardly find this gateway on most Ecommerce websites in Nigeria and I was surprised when I saw it on DealDey. That developer must have tried, biko why not let us dedicate this line to him by giving him/her a standing ovation.

Integration Work Flow

Humm. I can't but say humm. Fire must “commot for your head” to get around integrating this payment gateway. The first place where you start smelling fowl is when the document you are sent is a folder. You need to have a dedicated server to use this payment option; it's no joke because your shared host won't allow you to implement all their requirements. I think I got my new white hair strand while integrating with these guys. One of the configuration documents states and I quote “(7) After successfully doing the operation above, two files will be generated, a .PEM and .CSR file. The generated .CSR will be mailed to softwareunit@unifiedpaymentsnigeria.com for signing, then we send you the 2 files, merchantname.key and cacert.pem files that will be referenced in stunnel,”, chai...must development be this hard?

Vulnerability

I am tempted to say NEVER EVER...but with that last iota of truth in me that no system is 100% hack proof I would say Super! But mehn, this boys don finish security. From the integration flow, you would know that this is more like the bullet proof vehicle that saved General Buhari's life during the suicide bombing saga. I will liken the system’s structure against vulnerability to that rugged BEMIL cash conveying vehicle on the street of Lagos. That is how I see it sha.

Documentation

Overkill is the word for Pay Attitude’s documentation or is it because I never had time to go through it? “Ki ni yen po”, that thing is much. What else would you expect from a folder containing 11 files? How am I to read everything? Please programming books still dey, I never read. However, the integration is pretty straight forward if you are not so new to integration.

Support

Would you still need support with the overkill documentation? Yes you need a lot of it...hehehe. Please load your phone and start calling “Ta*****”. Ahhhh the most difficult part is when you are getting your certificate signed and connecting to their gateway. It is not that other parts are not so difficult but connecting to the gateway is the most difficult part. At almost every point you have to call. Maybe because they know this, their support guys give you their personal numbers. You can even call them in the middle of the night. The worst he would do is not to pick your call...hehehe, at least the call pulls through.

Setup Convenience

This is practically not convenient. Very manual, the street guys would say “Very Ibile”. But is it possible for them to automate their setup process? I doubt if they could; it would be rocket science o. Anyway, let's wait and see.

Limitations

I doubt if they now accept Mastercards, Verve and Interswitch cards, but the last time I spoke with their support guy he said they do. I don't trust him jare. You know that kind of “this is my lane” thing.

3rd. Interswitch Webpay or Quickteller

I know that many of us love to beef this company but let's give them the kudos, they have really tried and set a pace for the Nigerian IT industry. Most people like to argue about the setup fee they collect; yeah they want to do everything to keep you talking about them, they want to be on top, so their show of supremacy is obvious, but to be successful in Ecommerce in Nigeria, you will need to be loyal to Interswitch.

No doubt, Interswitch is a company with a difference.

Integration Work flow

Superb but stressful! A developer needs to be very smart and well experienced before having a first grasp of the flow. A new developer would call it a tedious task but I will say it is one of the basic reasons they are secured. No room for cheap vulnerability.

Vulnerability

Close to never. I am not saying 100% because no system is hack proof but the vulnerability won't come cheaply.

Documentation

Not so fantastic. Their documentation is not enough for you to easily execute the integration. You may need to refer to one of my blog posts that tells you 5 salient points you need to know when Integrating your custom application to webpay(interswitch) - PHP Developer's . I feel that Interswitch needs to work more on its document.

Support

Good support. They respond to mails even on Saturdays. You can call their support team at odd hours....did I ever try that? Yes I did and it was quite helpful. If no one responds to your mail, contact their boss, then someone would need to redress.

Setup Convenience

Too bad, this is still done manually; I feel they have so much to do about this, but they have a sandbox that developers can use without contacting them. I envisage a system where a merchant can setup his/her account on the fly (without contacting anybody), then get all the details needed in a single document which may be provided after a merchant registers. This would remove so much stress and burden on the support and will greatly reduce calls to the support unit.

Limitations

Till now, Interswitch don’t accept VISA cards; so when considering using Interswitch, you need to consider your customers who are still loyal to VISA card. I heard they are planning to add VISA payment to their platform very soon. It looks more like the normal story to get Merchant excited, but don't worry I will definitely update you as soon as they start accepting VISA cards.

2nd. IOnePay

This is a great platform. Yes, I know that it is not a platform that is known to a common man on the street but the dudes behind it have been doing wonderful job. I got to use it on a project that I executed in 2012, it was awesome. This is an innovative company; believe me, just watch out for their next plan for the Nigerian payment system.

Integration Work Flow

Good! It is one of the standard ways but without much headache. If you have integrated Pay4Me before, it is almost the same with IOnePay except for that base64 encoding in the header of your request...does it give you a sign of relieve? Lol. Did I just hear you shout yeah yeah? The approach is quite straight forward and it gives room for flexibility. You know how the structure of a framework would curtail you to do the right thing? It is exactly what they did. You just need to do little things to have the basic knowledge of XML.

Vulnerability

Would love to have said “Not at all” but you know no system is 100% hack proof. The vulnerability pf this platform won't be a cheap one.

Documentation

They did a good job in just one pdf document but I still found it confusing at some point of my first integration. I believe a super documentation is the one that would require no support from the start of integration to the end. At some point, I needed to consult their support person for some help and she was helpful. I am sure it is just one or two lines that need to change in order to make that document epic.

Support

Super! I wish they would keep this up because I have a feeling that most Nigerian Companies tend to fail in support when they become big. I don't know how big this company is but if the support I got from them is what they give all their customers, then I will need to know how many personnel they recruit for their support. To be candid, finding a support person calling you and sending a follow up email to ask if you have any issue on your integration is incredible. I got that treatment and I was tempted to think if the babe on the phone had some chemistry for me...Lol. No o, na strictly business o. IOnePay, once again I say you guys are awesome!

Setup Convenience

Manual, you write or call them. They go into their black box, do some configuration and you are good to go. I am not sure I like this because I feel this process can be automated. They have few things to ask from you and few things to give you too. Then you would be tempted to ask, “Just like that?”

Limitations

Your customers need to have a customer account with IOnePay before making payment. I don't really like this process. Don't ask me why. I want to logon from the site I am making payment, then pay straight away. This is the flow that is expected to work here in Nigeria because we are not patient.

1st. UBA Payment Gateway

Yeah UBA, I know many of you would expect not to see this payment gateway on my list but trust me, I saw a good job well done by this platform. When a client first asked me to integrate a UBA payment platform with an Ecommerce application, I saw it as same-same bank thingy, not until when I opened their documentation and saw surprises. If you need to know, that is a good job from a bank in Nigeria. I am sure that someone is not thinking that I am being biased for putting UBA payment gateway on this list because my friends work as IT guys. Never ever! Now, let me show you why you just have to give them the kudos.

Integration Work Flow

The integration workflow is superb and easy for good developers. There are three ways to connect; HTTP post (in a different way, I say in a different way), XML and JSON. This is so sweet. I wish I could give whoever designed this flow a kiss...French kiss biko...No Homo ***Straight face***.

Vulnerability

Safe. No system is 100% hack proof, the system is safe. No cheap vulnerability. They've got a lot covered and that is why they are really good.

Documentation

Hummmmm! Just a single pdf...and with PHP sample codes ...LOL. The documentation is quite detailed and explanatory, except for some things which I would have wanted them to add. The only reason I needed to have called their support was because I left some fields out of the parameters to their gateway. I felt this is not necessary because they are not even described as important in the documentation. Another thing you need to watch out for is your Reference Number. Bro, being unique on your platform doesn't mean it would be unique on theirs, so you would probably need to append some letters with it because as it is, it seems they have finished registering number references o. You would probably be getting already registered error. Apart from all these, you are damn fine.

Support

Zero! LOL. You may have another experience about them but my only experience with one of their support guys was awful. When I called him and told him about my issue, he asked me to send him an email and promised to call back, but he never did even till now. Guy! I’m still waiting for a call from you...Lol. But really, you need little or no support from these support dudes.

Setup Convenience

Manual, you need to approach a customer support person in the bank for setup. Their system is not that complex so I wonder why they can't allow their process to start and finish online. Must I see or call someone to setup a merchant account?

Limitations

Guess what? You can do all bank cards on this payment platform. This just makes it cool but I don't know if you must have a UBA account to setup an account.

Ahhhh! That was a long piece. If you are still reading this, it means you have taken so much patience to read my rants. Thanks! I know some people may ask why I did not mention payment platforms like Diamond pay, Global pay, Fidelity Pay, Stanbic Pay, Vogue Pay and others. Yes, they are not on my list because I found a vulnerability that won't allow me praise them. Anyway, I have written to some of the companies about the vulnerability and I pray they fix it very fast. I would strongly advise you to disable the mentioned payment platform if you are using any of them because if the bad guys know what I know about them, your company is in soup. Who even knows if you have been experiencing such on your site and have been wondering where your money has been going. It can ruin your business.

I am sure you will agree with me that it is dangerous to publish such vulnerability online because a lot of businesses would be greatly affected. I will take time to write about what to watch out for before choosing a payment gateway in my next post.

Hope you enjoyed this long essay, show some love...don't just read, share and drop some comments.

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Disclaimer: I wrote this based on my personal experience with these payment gateways and I have not done this to ridicule or advertise any platform. I have also based my assumption on the materials and information available to me as at the time of writing this piece.

Movement!


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