BlackPay, a Nairobi based tech start-up has launched an Internet escrow service aimed at securing payments for online shoppers and sellers around the city.
BlackPay Escrows is dedicated to solving this problem permanently. The city-based tech start-up is securing online transactions with a new mobile escrow service powered by M-PESA. This service allows buyers and sellers to transact securely by providing disposable escrow accounts which you can deposit into for free with M-PESA.
“It is a simple and secure way to enforce trustworthiness in the otherwise unsafe e-commerce sector.”, explained Nelson Ameyo, the director.
How it works
When a buyer has found something to purchase on the Internet, he/she will contact the seller and agree on pricing and delivery. The next step for the buyer is to login to their BlackPay account and create an escrow transaction with the seller. The seller will accept the deal, allowing the buyer to deposit the agreed amount into the escrow transaction with Lipa Na M-PESA. This money is kept in holding and cannot be withdrawn by the buyer while the deal is in progress. Upon delivery of the product, the buyer will inspect it then authorize the money in escrow to be transferred to the seller’s account.
With real-time SMS and email notifications, buyers and sellers will always stay up-to date on their business. The platform also makes it possible to trade with a person who is not yet a member of BlackPay through SMS invitations that allow them to signup and respond to your deal in minutes.
“Our target transactions are between Ksh 200 to Ksh 70,000. This is the larger spectrum of e-commerce trades excluding cars. Our next steps are focused of product refinement, customer care and partnerships”, Nelson told me. “Our sights are set on becoming the de-facto e-commerce security service you want to use every time”.
As for whether the market is ready for such technology, Nelson said:
“39 million Kenyans are now accessing the Internet from their mobile phones. A lot of these users are also actively shopping online. Facebook, Instagram, OLX and similar websites have exploded with business ads and deliveries are being made all around the city and its environs. Kenyans are ready to scale to the next level of e-commerce. And we are leading the way to it”
There are practical use-cases of digital escrow services in today’s Kenyan e-commerce space. According to McKinsey’s last iGDP report, 2.9% of Kenya’s GDP (Ksh 2bn) comes from online business. A majority of this business is driven through Facebook buy-sell groups, ad-listing websites, WhatsApp and major e-shopping websites. These online communities can benefit from a trusted and convenient trading system.
Nelson added that he believes African e-commerce can thrive if steps are taken to make the whole ecosystem trustworthy for both buyers and sellers.