Two seemingly unrelated announcements were made by a pair of tech industry heavyweights - Apple and (eBay's) PayPal. Apple extended two-step verification - where a code sent to an old device must be used to change an account or buy something on a new device - to 49 countries, including China, India, Brazil and dozens of other developing nations. Nigeria was not on the list. This is noteworthy because PayPal announced that tens of thousands of Nigerians signed up for PayPal in the first week of operations there. PayPal and its partners (a prominent local lending partner, suppliers in Dubai and China, and fast-growing online retailer Jumia) claim that e-commerce in Nigeria has officially arrived.
Of course, for consumers, signing up for PayPal or verifying a new
iPhone is only the beginning of the online buying experience. The bloom
will quickly fade from the e-commerce rose if buyers fail to receive an
order or fall victim to identity theft. The trust barrier is
considerably higher for emerging-market consumers than it is for their
mature-market counterparts. In many developing countries, people
generally mistrust banks, operators, mail delivery organizations,
foreign companies, and the legal system's capacity to prosecute fraud or
theft. It will take a concerted effort to build trust and educate new
smartphone users about risk, data protection and privacy.
As smartphones and wearables are used for more and more functions, trust
and education will determine the growth rate for online purchasing.
Device makers, app developers, and service providers (including back-end
hosts) all have tremendous opportunities up and down the e-commerce
value chain. Multinational companies that build reliable public - and
private-sector partnerships (particularly with delivery services) and
implement strong, user-friendly security measures will foster trust. To
be truly effective, these efforts should accompany early and continued
investment in brand marketing via localized content and messaging that
reinforces security features. Providing a platform for user reviews and
focusing on early adopters and influencers through social media can also
validate the online buying experience and address the trust issues of
willing but wary buyers.