My personal definition of what the ideal business looks like is Microsoft. Microsoft is a largely organic (only went public because they had to) B2B business that produces software (asset light) that powers more than a million businesses worldwide.
I clearly have a bias for businesses in the B2B space. At US$2.17 trillion, Apple is one of the most valuable businesses in the world. And although Apple operates primarily in the B2C market segment, my definition of what a successful business looks like is still Microsoft.
There’s a very good reason for that; My personal bias towards B2B businesses means that I’d prefer to sell a US$10,000 product to 600 businesses (who are usually less price sensitive), and make US$6 million than try and sell a US$60 product to 100,000 people to make the same US$6 million.
In my opinion, the B2B market segment (especially in Africa) is one of the best segments to innovate, create and extract value from.
The closest business to Microsoft in the Nigerian tech space is SystemSpecs.
SystemSpecs is a leading provider of payment and human management technology in Nigeria.
However, the purpose of this article isn’t to talk about SystemSpecs as a business in itself, but to analyse its most recent addition to its product lineup – Paylink.
If you want to learn more about Systemspecs, I have a note you can follow up with to get some of the basics down. Here’s the link.
Paylink is Systemspecs attempt to leave it’s primarily B2B and B2G market segment to innovate for the B2C market.
Paylink is a product that provides users with a special link they can share to customers and clients and receive payments with, rather than sharing their bank details for security reasons. Paylink also allows vendors innovatively display their products using the embedded customizable link.
Paylink is a free product with a caveat – all transactions are processed by Remita. Which is really just common sense; I cannot run poultry, and still go to buy chicken from an outside source.
The strategy (and idea) behind Paylink begins to look clearer – finding a way to route more payments through Remita.
Paylink’s Value Proposition
Paylink’s value proposition is built and hedged around safety – Paylink is a safer way to receive payments for services by businesses and institutions nationwide, with a large emphasis on SME (Small and Medium sized enterprises).
Paylink’s Trade Off
Ideally, every solution is a tradeoff. More than 1.3 million people die every year from car accidents. The probability of losing 0.00022% of the population annually is less scary (and embarrassing) than walking from Iyana Ipaja to Ikeja, or hopping on a horse (can road safety legally stop you from riding a horse to work?).
Paylink’s solution creates a tradeoff between security and experience.
Paylink sells security, but at the expense of a more arduous customer experience. As a rule of thumb, creating a better product experience is first and foremost seen in the amount of clicks you will need to make from origination to achieving the desired end results.
Platform businesses are very good at exploiting this – it is easier to read a LinkedIn article while you scroll through your feed than to have to visit an external site, or worse still type the link into your browser yourself.
Microsoft Teams had a massive scalable advantage over Slack because it was bundled in suite with Microsoft Office, and more than a million businesses worldwide use Office products.
Trading off experience isn’t necessarily a bad thing – large enterprises will likely choose a horrible customer experience (a complex product) that gives them better security than choose poor security with an overall admirable customer experience. The challenge is that the market Paylink targets are SMEs, and SMEs think in congruence with everyday customers.
The general perception of financial security in Nigeria is primarily; keep your card numbers, pin, and BVN a secret. Most people do not fear their bank account numbers being publicly displayed.
If there is a high chance a person will send you funds, you will (in most cases) usually have no problem with sharing your bank account number with that person.
Obviously, you don’t want to go around dropping your account number in public places (or hanging it on billboards to see who will miraculously send you money), but the perception that keeping that number a secret is high value security is not there, especially among everyday consumers.
Therefore, trading off a good customer experience (few clicks) for an arguable perception of security does not birth a great product. It births customer churn rates and apathy.
I perform most (if not all) of my banking transactions using USSD codes. By typing in a code and following a couple of quick prompts after that, I can send money to anyone in Nigeria without the need to step out of my house, or go to an ATM gallery.
That simple straightforward experience means a lot to me, and I do not intend to lose it for something else.
Paylink’s perception of security and its user’s perception of security may not be the same.
As much as I consider Systemspecs to be a phenomenal business (organically grown, great culture, and a strong B2B focus), I can’t help to believe that a lot of market research wasn’t carried out before building this product.
Most people don’t know Systemspecs owns Remita, most people have never heard of Human Manager, and that’s fine really, businesses operating in the B2B space usually have the privilege of being discrete. Nobody really has to know you’re making money, just keep running your business. That’s why I describe Systemspecs as that quiet guy that nobody really knows makes any serious money, until you visit his 6 bedroom house in Parkview Estate Ikoyi and see a black 2020 Mercedes Maybach parked at one end, and a silver 2018 Porsche Cayenne parked at the other end.
When you operate a consumer product, it can’t be low key.
I personally don’t know anyone that knows Paylink, matter of fact I only became aware of its existence because I worked on a case study on Systemspecs some months back.
Systemspecs definitely needs to up their marketing on Paylink.
It is easier to write than to build. Paylink doesn’t actually have the best all round integration – you only have an option of two banks for transfers, and the only wallet you have access to is Paga.
A person sending this link to a customer/client to make a payment ideally wants to make it as simple as possible for them to make a transaction, and not burden them in any way to avoid them changing their minds.
The major market for Paylink is SMEs, and most SMEs tend to think like consumers.
Redefine Paylink’s value proposition: you can’t tradeoff customer experience for a perception of security your target market doesn’t necessarily agree with.
Reduce customer touch points and experiences: the fewer the clicks an end user has to make to reach their desired goal, the better the consumer experience.
Scale up integrations: the more options end users have to pay for a service using Paylink, the better. Especially if it’s an option the end user in question already uses.
Scale up Marketing: if a tree falls in a forest, and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound? No matter how good a product is, if no one knows it exists, it creates very little tangible value. Find more effective marketing channels, and make the most of them.
Paylink is a phenomenal product, and with a proper redesign, I believe it can fully and properly achieve the goal it was designed for.
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
P.S: I recently signed up for Paylink, so this isn’t some random guy yapping into thin air, this is customer feedback.
P.S2: for consultation services, you can send a mail to the email below.