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Cost keeps many Kenyans away from using cards in online shopping

By The Standard Team | November 9th 2015

NAIROBI, KENYA: Only one per cent of over 80,000 shoppers sampled in the 3rd quarter of this year used card to pay for products they purchased online, 27 percent preferred to pay via mobile money transfer before or after delivery while a whopping 72 percent preferred to pay in cash on delivery.

If the survey is anything to go by, What are Kenyans really using the total 14,707,736 cards 238,935 ATM Cards, 1,687,005 prepaid cards, 853 charge cards, 254,116 credit cards and 12,526,827 debit cards registered according to data from The Central Bank of Kenya for? Is the survey a reflection of the sad state of offline plastic money usage in Kenya? Or is it just online? 

Parinaz Firozi, MD, Jumia Kenya who was part of an internal survey released by Jumia team commented, “The low numbers are forgivable since most consumers were skeptical at first over online shopping forcing e-commerce companies to push for pay on delivery.” 

Firozi further stressed that full adoption and use of plastic money in Kenya would require the joint efforts of financial institutions, the government and retailers, “I am optimistic of a positive shift in this trend as more and more outlets such as supermarkets, hotels, public transport continue to accept plastic money as a payment method and grow consumer confidence in the payment method.” 

The story is even sadder for Hellofood an online portal that allows consumers to order food from a restaurant of choice and have it delivered to their doorstep as shared by managing director Duncan Muchangi. 

“We pulled down the cards payment option from our website since the number of users was insignificant but as confidence among online shoppers continues to grow, we are looking to re-introduce the option early next year.”

Juan Seco, Head of finance at Jumia expressed concerns over the cost involved while paying with a card, "A lot of the problems we see for the expansion of plastic money in the market relates to the cost of using it. Right now, the cost for a retailer giving the card payment option is from 1.5 to 3 times more expensive than mobile money transfer. A cost that either has to be absorbed by the retailer (and therefore not interesting) or passed on to the customer (and therefore less used)." 

Mark Otieno a financial consultant in Nairobi argued that the survey was a reflection of the skepticism among consumers both online and offline and that the trend is unlikely to change until financial institutions and card companies came up with campaigns to reassure users of card security while shopping. 

“In an age of cybercrime, all consumers need is assurance that they are safe while using cards for payment, that their data and personal information is private from any hacking, they need to be enlightened on which cards to use and when to change their passwords and what to do if they suspect foul play. It is every financial institutions and Card Company’s duty to ensure consumers are safe.” 

And while all is not lost as banks and retailers continue to adopt the chip-enabled cards that are safer than the magnetic cards, there is still a long way to go towards a plastic money Kenya. Time will tell.

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