VTNETWORK Limited (VTNETWORK) is rolling out mobile payment services across Nigeria to serve the over 160 million mobile phone users in the country and a move likely to spark competition by mobile money providers for subscribers.
After approval by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) late last month, Peter Ojo, VTNETWORK CEO announced: “it has been a very long journey, not just for us, but for our agents, super agents and subscribers. We can take the reigns off our VCASH service; it is fully live.”
VTNETWORK first offered an e-commerce payment platform in 2007 with the goal to deeply and fully understand the Nigerian payment landscape market and to experiment on how to best tackle the most prevalent payment needs. What evolved over time is the present platform, called Virtual Terminal Network, or VTN.
VTN has hundreds of thousands of registered users, a very significant number of whom make one or more transaction every month, unheard of for a payment platform in the West African markets. “We feel we understand the Nigerian customer and their immediate needs,” said Ojo. “VTN’s reliability is a further differentiating factor.“
“Our head start is paying off,” explains Peter Ojo. “Today we have a very solid team and services that people want. We have the best-trained and strongest agents and the savviest users in the market.” VTNETWORK’s ability to identify and execute partnerships has been strong and will be a focus, now that CBN’s mobile approval is in hand. “We are open to the right partnerships, locally and globally.”
With its “Non-Bank-Led” CBN license, the company’s new mobile money initiative, branded VCASH, will add mobile phone access to its existing VTN platform. This will vastly expand the number of Nigerians who can benefit, as only a small minority have bank accounts and constant internet access.
“We’ve been planning this for years,” said Ojo, who explained that all funding is stored value (e-money), a method that makes sense for the unbanked, and the prepaid nature of each transaction makes the model even more secure as there is no credit exposure.
In order for phones to replace wallets in Nigeria, technology and creative marketing must be an integral part of the winning strategy. VCASH’s technology and robustness is second to none.
With VCASH there is a solution for every sector of the economy, from basic person-to-person transfers to more sophisticated financial services. And according to Ojo, the company is in the midst of integrations to facilitate international remittances by years’ end.
VCASH’s focus on the unbanked brings change to the business, notably a focus on cash agents. “We have metrics, goals for numbers of agents”, said Ojo, “but more important is the quality of the agents. We emphasize agent training and provide unusual levels of support.”
CBN is playing a lead role as national educator on the advantages of cashless transactions, using a variety of methods available to it, as the lead regulator. VTNETWORK has a time-tested strategy for market expansion. “It is when your friend, or relative, or a business you are dealing with says “let’s use VTN” that the service prospers.”
Nigeria presents a very large opportunity at 160 million population and more than 100 million mobile phones, as all have noted. Jupiter Research estimates the country will account for 54 percent ($702 billion) of the total value of global mobile payments of $1.3 trillion by 2017.
VTNETWORK LIMITED brings world-class expertise, a team with an uncanny ability to anticipate consumer needs, tested technology, passion, and superior market knowledge.