Kenneth Ntende, 25, like many his age, is fond of the Internet. The difference between him and his peers, however, is that the Internet is not just a tool for passing time or to be trendy. It is fertile ground for him to make money.
His first innovation was an app, smart wallet, that facilitates sending pocket money to students. The latest initiative he recently came up with is a payment and money transfer platform called Dusupay.
Co-founded with John Kigonya and Hillary Namanya, the system works with banks, card providers such as Visa, Mastercard and American Express, Mobile wallets and point of sale machines such as Payway in Uganda and Solo Payments in Kenya, to facilitate money transfer and online payments worldwide.
Dusupay is a software that operating on a platform known as www.dusupay.com. According to Ntende, the software serves two major purposes - facilitate online payments and enable money transfers from the diaspora to Africa.
For one to operate on dusupay, it requires them to go to the website and open up a Dusupay account. The cost of money transfer depends on how much one is going to transfer. However, the least amount is 3.9 per cent off every transaction made.
“Website owners can also be paid without necessarily meeting the payee. Your clients from all over the world can pay you using their bank cards or mobile money accounts through Dusupay take.
For example, if one has a website and needs to sell adverts, they must have a Dusupay plug in button on their website,” explains Ntende. The button directs the advertisers on how to pay. This can either be through mobile money or a bank. After payment, the advert will place itself directly on the website; it will also go down when it expires.
“The best thing about it is you can withdraw funds that have been paid to you any time by mobile money. For people that do not have websites, Dusupay gives you the alternative of uploading what you are selling onto their platform as long as you have a merchant account. So people can pay you for your goods or service right on the Dusupay website,” he adds.
To promote transparency the buyer gets a code after payment. When he/she receives the goods, they give the sellers a code which they use to withdraw the money off Dusupay after the buyer receives his product.
Starting the company
Starting up the online business, however, was not a walk in the park since payment platforms require working with all banking networks and telecom companies in the countries they are operating. A lot of bureaucracy is involved in addition to money spent to gain such strategic partnerships.
“For banking, we work with any bank that uses a VISA card. In Uganda, we work with telecom companies such as MTN and Airtel, in Kenya we work with M-pesa and Vodacom in Tanzania,” Ntende says.
Dusupay Ltd was registered in Uganda late last year and is also registered in UK, Kenya, Zambia and is currently in the process of registering in Nigeria.
“The telecom companies involved gave us their API, [Application Programme Interface]. API is software which involves codes that are a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. The API specifies how software components should interact.
From then, we used 10 different software engineers who took five months to come up with the interface of Dusupay.
Altogether, the cost of starting the whole process was about Shs100m, the money is used as float cash to enable the smooth running of the business. The money was raised from a savings of co-founders and shareholders,” he says.
They are two main founders, him and Hillary Namanya who is also the operations manager. The other six are shareholders and the company is still selling shares todate.
“Since the business is new and requires people investing their money, many are still skeptical. They have not learned to trust our online business. Slowly by slowly, clients are coming in and we have more than 30 Dusupay agents around Kampala. Since it is a new company, we are not widely known, it is therefore hard for foreign partners to trust and work with us, slowly by slowly we will get there if we continue being innovative,” says Ntende.
The other challenge is the legal framework that varies from country to country. He says they want to expand to different countries, but most countries ask for different documents, and the some banks there also ask for too much money to be used as float.
Currently, they are only operating in all the East African countries, South Africa, Dubai, UK and USA.
“In Uganda, for one to start an online payment platform, they need to have a large amount of capital to work as float. This is enough to convince partners like banks and telecom companies that you can sustain the business. The company also needs to be fully registered. We registered the company at the registrar’s office at Shs1.2 million,” Namanya says.
What did it take to register and start the business?
To start such a business, one has to acquire different servers since it is an online business; some servers are only found in telecom companies so one has to work hand in hand with IT specialists of a particular company.
The servers are also paid for, an amount of $250 (about Shs900,000) a month, is required. In regard to how much profit they make, Namanya says: “I don’t want to disclose the profits but what I can say is that with all transactions; we make up to a million shillings every day.”
Some of the lessons they learnt from the business is that one has to consider positioning in order to have big sales thus, more profits.
How to be an agent
Payment of services such as airtime, pay TV and data online is done through their agent network. The revenues gained are shared with their agents. For one to become an agent, they have to go to the Dusupay account and follow the procedures, the least starting amount is Shs50,000 to be used as float for transactions such as airtime, data sending and receiving money.
Areas of operation: Dusupay has agents mostly in offices and other business places. One of the future plans is to have stalls and kiosks on the streets in and around Kampala. For now, the business agents only sit in office with their computers and transact business from there, they get commission per transaction, and the costs are the same with mobile money, according to Mr Ntende.