Monday, October 26, 2009

A Partnership to Revolutionise Commerce

Written by Demola Abimboye

Bank PHB partners with Virtual Terminal Network to take e-commerce to a new level

The partnership between Bank PHB and virtual Terminal Network, VTN, promises to take e-commerce in Nigeria to a new height. VTN is introducing an electronic payment system that will stop Nigerians from relying more on face-to-face business negotiations and cash-based transactions. The product was formally launched recently in Lagos during which BankPHB and Virtual Terminal Network said they couldnâ?Tt wait for Nigerians to subscribe to it.

Peter Ojo, founder of VTN, told Newswatch that the product is a hybrid payment network designed solely for developing economies to allow merchants and retailers to process their transactions safely and securely from the internet and global system for mobile communications, GSM. Under the arrangement, people can pay for goods and services online, irrespective of where the buyer or seller is located within the country. All you need is a computer connected to an internet facility or simply a GSM phone.

Currently, there are two variants of this package. They are VTN Merchant and Personal accounts. The first account means that sales or services are no longer limited to buyers in a merchantâ?Ts immediate street or town. For example, a trader in Onitsha or Ibadan can sell goods or services to people in Bauchi or other Nigerian towns and get paid without seeing the buyers face-to-face. â?oCustomers can now patronise you from across the 36 states of Nigeria since they can pay you conveniently with VTN,â?ť Ojo said.

Subscribers to the personal account can load and transfer money to relations and friends across Nigeria through the phone. They can also receive funds through it.

According to Ojo, the entire package was designed to bring about convenience in business transactions and thereby ensure a turnaround in the countryâ?Ts socio-economic system. He said VTN would facilitate job creation for the teeming unemployed youths who would now be able to embark on small and medium local and foreign productive ventures. â?oAs a robust payment system for person to person transactions, VTN would reduce movement of huge cash across the country, thereby reducing robberies,â?ť he said.

He told Newswatch that his company and the bank had devised foolproof security features for the product. These include pin codes and passwords which no one else could know or have access to, unlike those of automated teller machines which fraudsters have hacked into. â?oWe are ahead of thieves with these securities, especially pins generated by atmospheric noise,â?ť Ojo said. He hoped other banks would soon key into the deal.

Kate Mercy-Ogan of Dominion Digital Network, a VTN merchant account holder, attested to the safety of the innovative package. She told Newswatch that when her employers subscribed to it, it was an instant success for the companyâ?Ts online payment. She revealed that in the past one year of usage, the company had not encountered difficulties. â?oWe even buy goods in dollars and pay through VTN in Naira,â?ť she said, adding â?oand the charges are not high.â?ť She enjoined the partners to explore the West and Central African markets for more patronage.

The partners to the deal said that they were taking the advantage of the countryâ?
Ts widespread usage of mobile networks and other existing technical infrastructure. They planned to avoid heavy dependence on expensive and too much technical systems which have high maintenance requirements that can frustrate VTN usage in the rural areas.

Kathleen Ndongmo of BankPHBâ?Ts International Banking Division, said that her bank was pleased to partner with Virtual Terminal Network in the deal. â?oWe have the resources, technology and strategic focus to see this through and take Nigeria to the future and catch up with the rest of the world,â?ť she said.

Written by Demola Abimboye

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