Payment gateways and bridges

Payment gateways and bridges

Africa and the world at large is witnessing a revolution in mobile and e-payments. While in the rest of the world e-payments has been the norm for years with people holding multiple credit cards,in Africa, the story is different. Mobile payments have taken root and usage is growing by leaps and bounds, with the likes of Mpesa –  a product of Safaricom having over 7 million registered users and Zap from Zain also making headway with over 1 million registered users.
For a lot of business out there, the nagging question has been how to integrate these payment mechanisms with their business systems, more so with the advent of increased internet usage and uptake of services that don’t require a physical presence such as wireless internet access.

Symbiotic Media has developed a gateway that can be customized to automate payments for both online and brick and motor businesses. The gateway is agnostic and can therefore by integrated with any choice payment mechanism and on any . We currently support Mpesa, Zap, MTN Mobile money, PayPal and Google Checkout, though adaptation to any local payment mechanism can be done.

Case study

Sovaya Communications –  a kenya based ISP rolled out a slew of innovative data products with equally competitive pricing plans. Their choice for receiving payments was the scratch card method which after a pilot period proved too cumbersome with the logistics and access to the consumer being key difficulties.
Symbiotic integrated the payment engine optimized for Mpesa that has seen Sovaya improve on collection, monthly renewals as well as making it easy to rope in new customers.

How so:

Depending on the plan that you have, whether monthly on a flat fee or charged per minute, you will need to make the payment to Sovaya. This would entail looking for a Sovaya scratch card vendor in your neighborhood or travel into town to make the payments at Sovaya offices.
With our payment gateway existing or new users who detect the signal can make the payment from the comfort of their mobile phone with the service and access details being sent back to the user via sms as well as being displayed onscreen in real-time. Instant payment, instant access! If you run out of “browsing juice” in the middle of the night, do not despair…your instant connectivity is only an sms away
Our gateway  is also adapted for real-time payment and service activations for services such as pay tv  – the likes of DSTV and Zuku.


How our payment gateway works

Our payment gateway facilitates the transfer of information between a portal (such as a website, mobile phone or IVR service) and the Front End Processor or acquiring bank. When a customer orders a product from a payment gateway enabled seller or service provider, the payment gateway performs a variety of tasks to process the transaction:

  • A customer places order on website by pressing the ‘Submit Order’ or equivalent button, or perhaps enters their card details using an automatic phone answering service.
  • If the order is via a website, the customer’s web browser encrypts the information to be sent between the browser and the merchant’s webserver. This is done via SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption.
  • The merchant then forwards the transaction details to our payment gateway.
  • Our  payment gateway forwards the transaction information to the processor used by the service provider.
  • Provider validates the transfer / payment
  • The processor forwards the response to the payment gateway.
  • Our  payment gateway receives the response, and forwards it on to the website (or whatever interface was used to process the payment) where it is interpreted and a relevant response then relayed back to the cardholder and the merchant.
  • The entire process typically takes 2–3 seconds

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  • gmeltdown December 29, 2009 Reply

    This is definitely a sign of real growth for our ecommerce industry – after a long period of retardation. It should really be possible for more merchants to embrace the new technology. Technology providers like Symbiotic should have a more liberal pricing approach to rope in more merchants at these initial stages. It would be interesting to get estate management companies to collect rent through such a payment system.

  • JOEL NDEBE January 23, 2010 Reply

    I have been struggling to facilitate money transfers from USA to kenya, through whatever media. Let me know how this can be done commercially

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