Where are the SaaS Solutions Companies in Nigeria?
Recently, I read in a daily newsletter about a plan by the Federal Government to enact laws that will criminalize non patronage of indigenous ICT brands by government institutions in Nigeria. This is to foster local technology adoption by basically forcing government agencies to boycott foreign products. As much as I think this kind of initiative is important to drive the adoption of local content within our burgeoning technology ecosystem, the question I ask myself is whether there exists sufficient “good enough” alternatives that can be easily resorted to.
Although, the law is targeted at the full spectrum of ICT and perhaps focused more towards hardware, I thought about SaaS and enterprise solutions in Nigeria and asked myself what are the local alternatives to some of the popular foreign software that we currently use on a daily basis in Nigeria. This led to the topic of this write-up. I thought about the applications I use on a daily basis and asked a few friends to tell me about the software they use in their offices and industry. I also did a search for applications for different purpose in Nigeria. I categorized the software into common segments that cut across sectors and tried to find local solutions that serves those specific needs. I was able to compile a not too surprisingly short list. I thought about why this might be the case and realized that there are just many challenges with building a SaaS solutions company in Nigeria and I will talk about those hurdles in a different post. For SaaS company that manage to overcome some of the challenges, by the time they start acquiring customers, another giant problem reveals itself — PAYMENTS.
For SaaS companies, because of the mere fact that the solution is online, the default and most efficient payment method is electronic payment, from an ease and unit economics perspective. The problem with online payment for SaaS businesses in Nigeria therefore, is that there are almost no payment gateways that support recurring billing in Nigeria. The few ones that do, they are focused on just accepting the payment, they do not help to manage the subscription of customers and these businesses have too many complexities and situations which these solutions are not sufficient for.
The companies therefore have to improvise with different ways like using Excel or other applications to keep track of who has subscribed, when they subscribed, who has unsubscribed, whether or not they have paid or they send their staff to collect cheques on a monthly basis from the customer. Another option they use is bank transfer but the problem with this, is the difficulty in matching every single transaction in a bank statement to the respective customers, especially when customers hardly reference the transactions correctly.
For those who manage to accept online payments with cards, they still face issues like:
There are a number of reasons why a recurring transaction might fail and they include insufficient account balance, due expiry date, bank servers and others. SaaS companies need a system that would automatically notify their customer and retry the transaction for a number of times before automatically suspending the customer’s subscription.
Many SaaS companies usually have different plans and at different times customers make switches within plans. For example, if a customer on a lower plan upgrades to a higher plan in the middle of the billing period, the companies need a system that can automatically detect how much credit the customer has left and deduct that credit from the cost of the new plan. They also experiment with different pricing/onboarding strategy like the freemium model. SaaS solution companies need a way to manage all these different scenarios.
Compliance and Security
Most SaaS companies do not have what it takes and would rather not bother themselves with things like high grade security, storing card details, compliance issues, and other such security concerns. They need a simple system that can take care of all these issues for them while still ensuring a good user experience for their customers.
These are just a few of the challenges that are payment related. SaaS companies in Nigeria need solutions that address these unique challenges before we can have a good answer to the question asked. If you run a SaaS business in Nigeria or you are experiencing some of these challenges in your business, reach out and let’s discuss how we can help you or visit www.amplifypay.com to learn more.