Almost every year, our payments alternatives seem to double. There are two which have been launched this year, in the last 3 months or so. It’s great when you want to buy credit, pay ECG bills and are able to easily do so with any of the local ones. But it’s such a pain when you need to receive international payments.
I have a story only a few people know. About 2 years ago, when leaving MEST, two of my friends and I founded Nim Street, a crowdfunding platform for creatives. There were probably other reasons why we failed, but chief of them was that we couldn’t find any proper payment system to help us receive payments for a product which was mainly targeting Ghanaians living abroad.
I understand that starting a payments company is not child’s play, and will take more than just talk to make that happen. While our government is trying to make all things work seamlessly digitally, the underlying payments solutions for receiving money from outside is just not feasible for entrepreneurs. I do some work for several clients, and mostly receiving money from the foreign ones is not as easy. The last few times I remember, I had to use Western Union!
I’m pretty sure a lot more startups have faced this issue while running their businesses. I’ve spoken to two tech entrepreneurs in the past few weeks who have expressed the need for a better payments system for Ghana. I like that our solutions work within the country, but who would be truly able to help startups receive payments from outside Ghana? These are some of the reasons which some startups register as American companies, so it’s easier to start up. At least, I have considered that before, and I know many people who have.
I don’t like it when people call on governments for stuff they can do themselves. But I think we need a call for either existing Ghanaian systems to receive international payments, or for international players to partner with local ones. Either way, it will help some folks start out and make some money for the products they offer. Sometimes, I think about all the companies in Ghana which have internationally-appealing products but can’t reach their potential because they couldn’t receive money and send money so easily.
I faced this, and know many others have; I hope it gets better for the entrepreneurs who are yet to start out.
If you have a way of receiving money from international clients, do share in the comments below.