Payment Gateways In Zimbabwe: The Horrors, The Good, The Ugly
I spent the last couple of months digging into payment gateways for the Zim market, and here's the result. Forget about Stripe and Paypal, my friend.
If you're a dev or a business diving into E-Commerce or some other venture that demands payment processing, you know the grind of finding a decent payment gateway, especially if you're a startup in Zimbabwe. Most folks end up settling for the ol' "Cash on delivery" or some twist of that. Trust me, been there, done that.
Here's the gist: from a dev's perspective, all payment gateways in Zimbabwe suck, or at least their APIs do. From my deep dive, I found a few that might work:
- Steward Pay
So, with all these options, why does it still feel like Zimbabwe doesn't have a decent payment gateway? Let's peel back the layers on why I'm not a fan of these platforms.
Paynow is probably the top dog payment gateway in Zimbabwe, and numbers might back that claim. Lots of businesses (that I know) are cozy with Paynow. What's to love about it?
- Covers every payment form you can think of (Visa, Mastercard, Ecocash, Zimswitch, etc.).
- Setting up an account is a breeze.
- Multiple ways to get paid.
- Plugins for E-commerce platforms (WooCommerce, Shopify, etc.).
Sounds sweet until you click on that developers link!
Before I dive in, here's my wishlist for a payment gateway:
- Display a checkout page (On my site!).
- Ask the customer for payment info (On my site!).
- Send a payment request to the gateway (Without the customer leaving my site!).
- Confirm payment and show confirmation on my site!
Is that asking too much? Apparently.
Paynow, after begging for API keys, hands you a sandbox account, and that's it. Tried talking to support, threw them my KYC, but my keys still chill in the sandbox. The docs? Extensive, but some parts, like the examples for what I actually want (Express checkout/Seamless Integration), don't work. At all!
Is Paynow right for you?
Depends. Cool with customers leaving your site to make payments? If yes, head over to Paynow and get cozy.
PS: Paynow tweaked their systems, broke the API, and I'm hustling to fix it. Soon!
Enough about Paynow; let's move.
Ever thought you found the one, but after a while, you see their true colors? That's Pesepay! From first glance, it looks like the missing payment gateway in Zimbabwe, here's why:
- Registration is a breeze, like 5 mins easy.
- Speedy account verification with KYC (30min to 1hr), crazy, right?
- Well-documented and clear API, or so it seems.
- Seamless integration.
- Support team on speed dial.
- JSON-based REST API, a thing of beauty.
But... they only take with Ecocash (ZWL and USD) and VISA. The docs hint at something called CABS for Zimswitch enabled cards, but couldn't crack it, so I assumed it's a no-go.
So, seamless integration? Pesepay rocks if you want Ecocash payments. Docs promised the same smoothness with VISA, but that payment request just hang.
Support suggested I use their hosted payment page, not what I wanted.
Is Pesepay right for you?
Bold claim, but yes. If you're targeting with the ZW market, where VISA cards are rare but Ecocash flows, Pesepay is your dance partner. Use it for Ecocash payments on your platform; customer inputs their phone number, enters a pin, all on your site.
For Visa payments, use their hosted payment page. Pesepay lacks Mastercard support, but they're cooking something up (apparently).
If this all sounds good, get a merchant account on Pesepay.
Also checkout my how-to article on Pesepay.
Okay, next stop.
DPO ain't Zim-born, but they roll out payment solutions for Southern Africa, and they're solid. Account setup? A breeze. An acquaintance of mine, got a working API keys in a day. What's to love?
- It just works, no "system iri down" drama.
- Docs are on point.
- Simple sign-up.
- Seamless integration, just what I wanted. But...
Good stuff, but, yeah, there's always a but. The merchant dashboard gives you the "what's happening" overload for the first weeks. Once you get the hang, it's cool.
Here's the catch: their API is in SOAP instead of REST. Hate SOAP and XML? Me too, 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?
Depends, but leaning yes. Downside? SOAP. Would prefer REST, but we can't always get what we want. Give it a shot, wrap a library around the SOAP, and it's cool. If Ecocash suits your vibe, DPO is your jam. Yeah, 3DSecure jazz, I didn't chat with support, but they might be able to help
Consider it? Totally, it just work!
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 blame them; wild stuff out there).
API test? Not yet, waiting on the spam email. Don't know if it plays nice or if there's a merchant dashboard like the others.
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.
After all this, what's the word? Zim payment gateways are a maze, not built for devs!
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.
I'm the go-to for adding payment gateways on sites. Takes a week with KYC in check. Know anyone in need? Toss 'em my way, let's chat.