A couple of months ago Stanbic Bank (sometimes known as Standard Bank in other countries) partnered with the Ghananian fintech company, Slydepay. This startup offers a way that allows customers to use their phones to scan a QR code in shops and pay using an app on their phone. Money will then be deducted from the customer’s Stanbic account.

How the original Slydepay works

Think of Slydepay as Ecocash 2.0-Ecocash on steroids. Businesses can sign up as merchants while ordinary people can sign up as subscribers. In this case subscribers initially come in the form of Stanbic account holders. When you get to the point of sale a QR code is generated by the POS, the customer scans that QR code and then gets completes the payment. The app also allows people to send money to each other and allows businesses to do bulk payments. It’s kind of like Ecocash but you are using data. It’s what Ecocash would be if we living in a country where data was cheap.

It won’t work simple

As our friends at Techzim have so adequately pointed out, this is not the first time we have seen a QR based method of doing transactions. The Ecocash app itself has QR functionality built within it although to be fair Ecocash hasn’t exactly marketed this method of payment. We also had Ecobank’s Masterpass. Now this is similar in almost every way to SlydePay with perhaps the only distinction being that it is an African solution.

While Masterpass will tell you they haven’t given up on Zimbabwe and Africa in general, the truth is they are done until something gives. There had to content with several problems:

  • Africa and Zimbabwe in particular already have mobile money based solutions that work in Ecocash and OneMoney
  • Low smartphone penetration. When you are holding a smartphone it’s easy to be deluded into thinking everyone has a smartphone. The bulk of people out there still use dumb phones-mbudzi. There are no QR codes there.
  • Internet and data charges. Mobile phone operators are still charging a fortune for data. There is also the issue of bundles which have sort of segregated the internet.
  • There is also the chicken and egg problem to Stanbic’s ecosystem. They need merchants to sign up and so subscribers will find value in joining the service. Merchants will not sign up until they see subscribers.

As things stand, SlydePay is destined for the Betamax pile-the graveyard of good ideas that went nowhere.