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Payment Gateways In Zimbabwe: The Horrors, The Good, The Ugly

I've spent the last couple of months researching viable payment gateways for the Zim market, and here is what I found out. And yeah, forget Stripe and Paypal.

If you're a developer or a business person venturing into E-Commerce or some other venture that requires processing payments, you've had the struggle of finding a good payment gateway, especially if you're a startup in Zimbabwe. Most businesses and developers end up just settling for "Cash on delivery" or some other variation of that. It sucks, I know; been there.

The gist of it: from a developer's perspective, all payment gateways in Zimbabwe suck, well, at least their APIs. From my research, I found these payment gateways to be usable in Zimbabwe:

  • Paynow
  • Pesepay
  • DPO
  • Steward Pay

If there are so many options out there, why does it still feel like we don't have a payment gateway in Zimbabwe? Let's take a deep dive into each of the reasons why I hate these platforms.


Paynow is branded as the leading payment gateway in Zimbabwe, and by the numbers, it's probably true. Many businesses (that I know of) have some form of a Paynow account. Here is what I love about Paynow:

  • It has every form of payment you can think of (Visa, Mastercard, Ecocash, Zimswitch, etc.).
  • Creating an account is fairly easy.
  • Multiple ways of getting paid.
  • Plugins for E-commerce platforms (WooCommerce, Shopify, etc.).

All this sounds good until you click on that link! The developers link!

Okay, before I go deeper into this, here is what I am looking for in a payment gateway:

  • I want to display a checkout page (On my site!).
  • Ask the customer for payment information (On my site!).
  • Send a payment request to the payment gateway (Without the customer leaving my site!).
  • Confirm payment and show payment confirmation to the customer (On my site!).

Is that too much to ask?? Is it really?

Okay, Paynow, After requesting API keys, you get a sandbox account, and that's all you get. I tried talking to support providing KYC, but till today the keys are still in the sandbox. The documentation is extensive; some of it works like creating a payment URL and redirecting the customer to Paynow, that works, very well actually, but that's not what I want!

Following the docs for what I'm trying to implement (Express checkout/Seamless Integration), the examples in the docs don't work, like at all!

Is Paynow right for you?

Well, that depends. Are you okay with customers leaving your site to make payments? If yes, then by all means, head over to Paynow and register a merchant account.

If not and you still want to enjoy the benefits Paynow offers but from the comfort of your own code, I developed an API on top of Paynow out of necessity called Easy, and it's easy to use. So visit https://easy.flixtechs.co.zw and get an API token.

PS: Paynow recently made some changes to their systems that broke the API, and I'm working on bringing it back online.

Okay, enough horrors about Paynow; let's move on.


You know that moment when you're so sure you've found the right person you think is different and vibes really well? Then, after some time, you start to see their true colors? Yeah, that's Pesepay! From first glance, it's the missing payment gateway in Zimbabwe, and here is why:

  • Registration is easy, I mean like 5 mins easy.
  • Account verification is fast if you provide KYC (From 30min to 1hr), I know right.
  • The API is well-documented and works well, or does it?
  • They provide seamless integration.
  • The support team is easily reachable and responds to queries promptly.
  • The API is JSON-based REST, and it's beautiful.

But... but they only accept Ecocash (ZWL and USD) and VISA only, although from the docs there's something called CABS what what to process Zimswitch-enabled cards but couldn't get it to work so I just assumed it doesn't work.

Okay, I said I want seamless integration, right? So, here's the thing about Pesepay: it only works if you're making Ecocash payments, and it works very well.

From the documentation, VISA was supposed to be the same, but the payment request just hangs. I talked to support, and they suggested I use their hosted payment page because of security reasons and whatnot, but that's not what I was looking for.

Is Pesepay right for you?

I'm going to be bold here and say yes. Here is why.

If you're building a product for the ZW market, the majority doesn't have VISA cards, but they do have Ecocash with positive USD balances. You can use Pesepay to make Ecocash payments on your platform; the customer puts the mobile number and enters a pin to confirm payment without leaving your site.

Now, if you need to take Visa payments, you then redirect to the hosted page to make payments. The only thing lacking on Pesepay is Mastercard; they said they are working on it last time I talked to them. I guess in the meantime, we have to wait.

So if this all sounds good, go and register a merchant account on Pesepay.

I've also written an article on how to use Pesepay to accept payments on your website.

Okay, moving on.


DPO is not a Zimbabwean company, but they offer payment solutions for Southern Africa, and they're great. Creating an account is relatively easy; an acquaintance of mine registered and gave the working API keys within a day. So here is what I love about DPO:

  • It works! (From where I come from, you get to appreciate things that just work; no "system iri down" shenanigans).
  • The API is well-documented.
  • Easy registration.
  • Seamless integration (Exactly what I was looking for), but there's a catch.

Okay, this is all good, but there's always a but. The merchant dashboard is overwhelming for the first weeks. There's just too much going on, but once you get the hang of it, it's okay.

Another thing is their API uses SOAP instead of REST. I hate SOAP and XML, and I guess you do too; it's annoying.

Wait, there's more...

So I said they give you full API access to "white label" your site; the customer doesn't leave the site, but they forgot to mention how to deal with 3D Security on credit cards. I'm sure if you know how to "handle that," it works just fine, but I didn't, I still don't. If you know a resource I can read, please send it to me on Twitter @ncubegiven_.

Another thing is that they only take Ecocash, but it works though; that's a plus.


Is DPO right for you?

Again, that depends, but I'm inclined to say yes. The only bad thing about them is that they use SOAP; I'd prefer it if they had a REST API, but we don't always get what we want. If you give it a chance and build a library wrapper around it, it's actually okay.

If you don't mind taking Ecocash only then DPO is right for you. Yes, the 3DSecure thing, but I didn't talk to support, but I imagine if you ask they may shed some light.

Should you consider it? Absolutely, dude, it just works!

Steward Pay

This is the new kid in town, debuted early this year, promising better payment solutions, and it's okay, I guess. I asked an acquaintance of mine to register about 3 weeks ago, and he did.

I should mention Steward Pay does not have a registration page, well, at least not a proper one anyway. So the registration goes like this:

  • You submit some sort of contact form saying you want to register on Steward Pay.
  • They respond to you via email asking for KYC.
  • You submit KYC.
  • They respond with next steps (within 3 working days, or so they say on their website).
  • The documentation is also okay (Haven't tried to use the API yet).

3 weeks passed, and we never got a response back, so today we decided to go directly to their offices to find out what exactly is going on, and here's what we found out:

  • Apparently, the response does indeed take 3 working days, but the email lands in the spam folder. I know!
  • They only accept Ecocash, and Steward Bank (like the customer gives their account, and it's debited or something like that).
  • They plan to bring VISA and MasterCard early next year.
  • They provide a hosted payment page.
  • They don't want you to "white label" your site probably because of security reasons (can't say I blame them; have you seen what people are building out there?).

As of yet, I haven't tested the API; still waiting on the spam email, so I don't know if it works as they say or not. Or if they have a merchant dashboard like other gateways.

Is Steward Pay right for you?

Honestly, I don't know; I haven't tried. I only got that far, but I can't wait to see how it works.

Assuming it works, it might be OK because they offer Ecocash, but at this point, you're better off with Pesepay.


Okay, so after all this, what did we learn? Payment gateways in Zimbabwe are a mess; they were not built with developers in mind!

What should you choose? If you have a project that requires online payments and you have a good developer, I suggest Pesepay and DPO; stay away from Paynow for your developer's sake.

But if you don't care about all that, well, Paynow is the last option.

As for StewardPay, I'm not sure yet; time will tell.

What do you think about this?


I specialize in adding payment gateways on websites, and the process takes roughly a week if your KYC is in order. If you know anyone looking for this, send them to me, and we talk.

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Writer at Flixtechs Given Ncube's picture
Given Ncube

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