Online commerce in South Africa is growing as more people gain access to the Internet and credit card facilities, says online payments provider PayGate – but greater attention to user experience would give this growth an extra boost. 
“Credit cards are still the most popular way to pay online, but it’s not always as easy as it should be,” says PayGate’s head of client services, Robin Philip.
“At a recent think tank we held for executives from most of the country’s leading online enterprises, we heard that the online payment experience is still too awkward and difficult for many customers.”
The 3D Secure system was singled out as an area for improvement, says Philip.
“3D Secure is a great idea to protect credit card holders by requiring an extra password at checkout,” he says.
“But at the moment it’s not being implemented as well as it could be. Different banks have different screens, the system is not always explained properly and there are several different ways of issuing PINs. This lack of co-ordination makes consumers suspicious, and everybody is seeing high dropout rates at this point in their checkout process. Fixing this would do a lot to boost online commerce in general.”
Other popular payment methods include PayD for debit cards, and automated electronic funds transfers (EFTs) via services like SID and Payfast.
“There are some other methods that have promise, but they’re either dollar-based with a low user base in South Africa, or restricted to a single bank,” says Philip. “All of them still need work to improve the checkout experience.”
In general, says Philip, merchants told PayGate that more could be done to create consumer awareness of the different ways to pay online, and to increase trust in these methods.