Mr. Hannes Van Rensburg is the Chief Commercial Officer, Clickatell, a B2B mobile technology market leader that enables startups, small-to-medium businesses and enterprises to connect, engage and transact with their customers. Its platforms and solutions help brands reach over 85 per cent of the world’s population, across more than 1,000 mobile network providers and multiple mobile channels.
Speaking to select group of newsmen recently in Lagos, Rensburg gave more insights on Chat Commerce and the opportunities it holds for Nigeria.
About Chat Commerce in Nigeria.
We are already doing business with banks, with most of the major banks using our solution.
For instance, the 737 platform runs on our technology. So there are a lot of transactions happening in Nigeria, and millions of other transactions, not just the 737 that runs on click technology.
E-commerce platform providers rushed to the Nigerian market but now they are struggling in that space.
How far can chat commerce revolution go in Nigeria?
The reason why e-commerce companies in Nigeria are struggling, is because there are no much consumers that actually browse the internet on PCs or on the laptop. The population of Nigerians that browse the internet on their laptop and PC is very small. But the number of people that have a cell phone and interact with users is almost everybody and so the market for chat commerce in Nigeria is significantly bigger than the market for e-commerce.
I don’t think e-commerce will fail in Nigeria, but I think chat commerce will be significantly more successful.
Security on chat commerce
Well, the chat application is developed so well, because you want to know that if you chat with somebody that it’s actually that person on the other side. So it’s encrypted, just like WhatsApp is encrypted end to end. The way that the authentication is done, if you get a new phone, and you want to instal a new WhatsApp application, then you have to go through authentication process. So there is inherent security built into chat applications. So it would be more natural, it will be more secure, and people will understand the safety. They don’t have to think about password, where do I store the password, and how many times they have to change password because it’s built into the system.
Operations in other sectors
Yes, we do and one of our very successful deployments is with MTN South Africa, we have a very successful deployment with MTN South Africa, we would like to do more work with Telecommunications Industry, we work with some of the biggest airlines in the world, United Airlines in the US is a customer of ours.
You remember when that plane crash-landed on the Hudson River, right, that was the United plane in New York. And when the communications went out, for 911 and and safety, that communication run on clickatell network. So we we do work all over the world with really big brands. But we really love Nigeria.
Our product is not a consumer product, we don’t want customers to know that, Oh, I’m interacting with Clickatell , we want to work with big brands. We want to work with all the big banks, and all the telecommunications company. Ultimately we think that our technology can be taken to every Nigerian and we will feel very privileged if we can do it with the big brands and not directly with consumers.
It’s a very competitive industry and globally, there’s a lot of companies that are trying to be the market leader, but we are focusing on the commerce part of chat commerce. There are lots of people that are trying to say, How can I make conversation? How can I talk to new personality, the bank has got a new personality, those things are all very good. We really want to get the best in the world, and I think we really are. On the cover spot, we actually pay, we buy things, and we want those things actually get delivered. That’s where we really want to be good at.
Investment in Nigeria
This is a vibrant country with a huge economy with many consumers that like to try out things, do new things and if it doesn’t work, they try out something else.
Nigeria is an amazing market and it is one of the biggest markets in the world. If you think of the number of people in Nigeria, almost 200 million people, and there’s very few countries that have 200 million people that are educated, tech savvy, prepared to try out new things, like transacting buying things dressing, buying nice shoes. Nigeria is one of the biggest markets in the world.
We are investing in the market, we invest in technology, we build a lot of technology to be specific to Nigeria, we invest in making sure that we conform to all the regulations, which sometimes is quite a significant investment. We want to be a company that complies with regulations, and we invest in people.
We will employ Nigerians and we are doubling our office space. So those are the type of investments that we’re making.
So we are one of the first companies that partnered with WhatsApp. WhatsApp launched chat commerce with four companies, and we were one of the four companies. We were the first company in the world that loans chat banking on WhatsApp in the world. So Whatsapp is a long term partner for us and we have a long relationship with WhatsApp.
We also have relationships with SMS companies, we have relationships with Facebook, we have relationships with IBM, and many more companies.