The internet blasted into common knowledge in the 1990s – and in just a couple of decades, it changed the world fundamentally. Until then, it was reserved for scholarly and military applications. The introduction of the “World Wide Web” in 1989, though, made it accessible as an information-sharing tool for the masses, too. Since then, the services built on this global infrastructure have become as diverse as they can be, “infiltrating” an ever-increasing number of our everyday lives, ranging from our news and entertainment consumption to shopping and payments.
One of the earliest online money transfer methods introduced in the “Information Age” was invented by two Irish brothers in the mid-1990s. It was built around bank cards, offering a secure way to pay over the internet. The two established CryptoLogic with the aim to make the most of this new payment method in the age of the budding iGaming industry. Their efforts paid off – online casinos and bookmakers have become a hugely profitable business all over the world. This led not only to the emergence of a series of online outlets like the Betway App and its respective website, but a rise in the interest for a new, faster means for online money transfer. And the benefits of these are reaped not just by these outlets but the entire retail industry as well.
From Banks to “digital wallets”
The idea of online money transfers was embraced by the majority of banks today. Their methods are built upon their existing platforms – they still revolve around bank accounts and credit/debit cards – but their interfaces have moved online. Pretty much every bank today offers a simple and user-friendly internet banking platform where their customers can initiate transfers, check their balance, and perform other operations.
It was not the banks that have taken online money transfers to the next level, though. They took the (admittedly cumbersome and often expensive) banking infrastructure out of the transfers themselves, making them almost instant in most cases. Today, we have “digital wallets” run by non-banking entities that offer a completely online payment experience to their customers. Some of them, like PayPal and Skrill, are widely available in most countries (with a few restrictions in some cases) and there are other, regional solutions embraced by many. Not to mention the newcomers in the FinTech industry – companies like Revolut (not available in Africa yet) that offer bank-like services to its customers while maintaining their agility and potential to disrupt.
For a wider reach of online payment methods
There are many online payment solutions that have the potential to change the retail ecosystem but lacks support from the retailers themselves. PayPal has managed to become one of the biggest alternative payment processors in the world due to its partnership with eBay, while AliPay, China’s response to PayPal, has grown exponentially due to its long-running relationship with AliExpress, China’s response to Amazon. In many African countries, the alternative payments market is dominated by brands like Mobile Money, Mpesa, Airtel Money, and their likes – these benefit of the fact that, while the population is largely unbanked, an ever-growing number of people have access to connected devices like smartphones that they can use to operate payments. While debit cards are still the payment method of choice for the majority of potential customers in most countries, payments are slowly becoming more mobile than ever before.
For a wider reach of online payment methods, retailers must also embrace these possibilities.