In Nigeria, a number of merchants have launched scratch cards or pin cards to help customers conveniently access their services online. These cards can only be used for transactions with the merchant that issued it. In most cases, these cards are only valid for one or just a few transactions.
The problem with this scenario is that to do business with any merchant you must have the scratch card of that particular merchant. This implies that one may have be carrying lots of electronic payment cards around making nonsense of its benefits.
Examination bodies like NECO, WAEC and JAMB currently have scratch cards that enable students to register for their examinations online. Scratch cards are also available for checking results of such examinations. Students now have to carry all these cards around which often lead to the loss of the cards.
For example, you cannot use NECO scratch card on WAEC and JAMB platform and vice versa. This is a big shame.
Some universities in Nigeria now direct students to buy scratch cards that will enable them electronically register for each academic year. Some Universities have different cards for different transacts for example Post-JAMB, Direct entry, school fees, masters, and so on.
Why can’t one card be used for all transactions or why can’t cards like VISA and InterSwitch be used for such transactions. Thankfully, some universities have started accepting multiple transaction cards like Visa and InterSwitch. It our hope that this trend will continue.
The monopoly power-supply company in Nigeria PHCN is now deploying electronic meters. Customers with such energy meters are given a chip card to enable them buy electric energy for onward loading into their prepayment meter.
Various state governments now use electronic solutions for vehicle registration and revenue collection. This is aimed at increasing transparency. States that have introduced electronic payment as the medium for revenue collection have experienced increased revenue collection.
All these e-payment solutions are commendable but have one common setback. They can be used only for one transaction or for transactions involving only one merchant hence the name one transaction e-payment solutions. If the trend towards one transaction electronic payment solutions is allowed to continue Nigerians may have to carry lots of cards around in the nearest future.
Some cards that an average Nigerian may carry in the nearest future if this worrying trend continues include:
Electric company chip card
Water Corporation chip card
Tax payment card
Landlord rent scratch card
Examination (NECO WAEC JAMB)
School fees payment card
Salary or wages scratch card
Stadium ticket scratch card
Mr. Biggs card
And lots more.
In fact it is possible that up to 100 different e-payments solution cards may circulate in this country in the nearest future if the trend towards one transaction electronic payment solutions is not halted. Imagine what will happen if every merchant has its own e-payment solution.
The way out of this problem is to promote and massively deploy multi-transaction solutions like Visa, VPay, Cashcard, and MasterCard. This cards can easily be deployed my merchants and will enable consumers to use a single card to pay for services from multiple sites.
Deploying such a system will enable merchants to focus on their core business their by improving efficiency. Electronic payment solution companies are experts in the field and can better handle the details.
In addition the paper wasted in producing these cards will be saved, a great service to the planet. In addition to saving the planet merchants will also save cost.
There is no reason why VPay for example cannot be used to register for JAMB, NECO or WAEC. All this involves is allowing a student to create an account by payment of the appropriate fee using VPay or any other such solution. Once the transaction is approved, the account is activated allowing the student to register for exam using the password and username created.
The account will be valid for a given period say six months or one year. During this period a candidate should be able to login with the username and password created. This will enable the student check his/her result. This is how it is done internationally.
In addition, it is possible for PHCN to buy processing space in Visa or InterSwitch platform. This will allow customers with Visa or InterSwitch cards to buy credit using their Visa or InterSwitch cards at any PHCN vending machine and use same to load energy credit into their electronic meter.
There is a serious need for e-payment solution companies to aggressively promote the advantages of their solutions to merchants in other to save the country the trouble that is likely to occur in future if the trend continues.
e-payment cards should also be made easily assessable. All bottlenecks that stand on the way of massive deployment of multi-transaction electronic payment solutions should be removed.
Perhaps the reason merchants are going for their own solution is because the multi-transaction solutions are scarce. To win these battle multi transaction solutions must be as easy to get as JAMB or mobile network scratch cards.
We look forward to a day when Nigerians will be able to use the same card to register for JAMB, NECO and WAEC. The same card will also be used to pay taxes, pay water and energy bills, register vehicles and buy from millions of merchants worldwide.
That card may be Visa or VPay, it may be Cashcard or MasterCard, it may even be a card that is yet unknown to us. However, for that day to come we all (merchants, card companies and consumers) must say NO to one-transaction cards.
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