by Oo Nwoye
Yesterday, my account was debited twice the quoted Uber fare amount of ₦ 1150. I was excitedly spoiling for a fight then sadly Uber refunded my account the complete trip fare.
This over debiting is not a new phenomenon.
From my interaction with the very polite C Jennie, the internal reason being given (and perhaps understood) for this discrepancy is “International Bank Charges” so I decided to reply and give what I know to be the main issue.
Here’s an excerpt from the Uber support email (I will not include my previous exchanges but I’ll say this “Oo, you could do with reducing the benin boy in you”)
Sorry for the confusion here. Happy to explain.
Given Uber’s international structure – our merchant account, Uber BV, is based in the Netherlands, and therefore certain banks will add an international transaction fee when their cardholder makes a purchase from Uber BV. Uber has no control over whether your bank chooses to add such a fee. While this isn’t an optimal experience, you may be able to lower or avoid these fees by using a different credit card.
I have gone ahead applied NGN 2300 credit to your Uber account which will automatically apply to your next ride.
Please know that we have no control over these additional charges and only charge what you see in your Uber receipt.
If you check your trip receipt, you’ll notice we have a disclaimer at the bottom that reads: “Fare does not include fees that may be charged by your bank. Please contact your bank directly for inquiries.” Our intent is to be as transparent as possible and make it easy for you to pay for your Uber requests.
Hope this clarifies things. Let me know if there’s anything else.
Being one never to let a chance for me to explain something pass, here is my response which explains the issue and why the overcharging it is Uber’s
Thanks for your response and the refund.
I work in tech and understand what’s happening, so I may be in a better position to explain to you and will cos you were kind enough to sort this out
It’s not bank fees but an exchange rate issue.
In Nigeria today, there are 2 exchange rates for the Dollar. The official one is $1 = ₦ 200 the black market is $1 = ₦400
When a Nigerian buys a domain name for $10, his bank deducts ₦4000 because the banks operate with the black market rate (getting dollars at the official rate is hard). The customer does not complain though. Why? because it was $10 that was charged and knows there are 2 prices for $10. ₦2000 if you buy it officially and ₦4000 from the black market
Here is where and WHY Uber is at fault.
When Uber wants to charge you ₦2000, Uber displays ₦2000. That is all the customer sees and knows. However at Uber’s backend, Uber asks that $10 be charged (because Uber ASSUMES it is the dollar equivalent). So both Uber BV and the Bank see $10. And what does the Nigerian bank do, they charge at the black market rate thereby removing ₦4000 from the customer’s account.
How can Uber (and other Nigeria based merchants using foreign processors) solve this?
The only way to solve this is to send the processor the charge Nigerian denominated bank cards in Naira and not in Dollars. For this, Uber will need to open a Merchant account denominated in Naira. I think it is only in Nigeria you can get such.
This issue affects anyone using a foreign processor in Nigeria. Harsh but true is the fact that it is not the customer’s business what processor you are using. You cannot say something costs x amount and 2x will get deducted. It’s that simple.
As for Uber, the only way to escape this extra deduction is to use cash. Before you place your Uber order, click the Card symbol and change it to cash. If you are yet to download your Uber, you can do so here and get $15 credit.
I’m sure if it’s a naira fare, it would be exchanged at ₦200.
PS: This of course this opens another topic about global payments in a globally connected commercial world. I’m still a long way from understanding how the block chain (awon Stellar, Bitcoin etc) would impact this.
by Oo Nwoye
Paystack is the easiest way to accept one-off and recurring payments online. We’ve figured it all out for you, from start to finish. No set up costs, no token, no redirects, no commitments.
Source: Paystack Blog
Oh my, I have waited to write this post for years! The title was ready 3 years ago.
For quite a long time, I and many others kept on lamenting about the dire state of Nigerian payments especially as it involved digital payments. It led me to write a blogpost where I lamented life as a second class citizen of the web saying
Don’t fucking worry about bridging the digital divide, just level the playing ground!
Of course I perpetually predicted payments solved every other year. and ranted when I had the opportunity .
Of course I am not including the times I shamelessly pleaded fro Stripe to “come to Nigeria” (Hey, don’t come now, we’re good) and my compatriots launched a petition to bring Paypal to Nigeria.
So what were the main issues?
it is practically IMPOSSIBLE to build an Internet company without the ability to collect money easily and store the cards securely to charge again.
Almost none of the YC companies would be viable without it. Same as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon etc.
Anyway, it’s all sorted now. A little boy in Jigawa can quietly build his SaaS company and get paid for it. A little girl in Ebonyi can easily sell goods digitally and sell to the world.
Take it from me, Paystack is a big deal and it is 100% Nigerian made for the make benefit of Nigerians and Africa. The recognition of its importance will be apparent soon
Shola, you did it man. Congratulations to you and your team. The real work begins now.
by Oo Nwoye
If you want the ONE question that disproves the theory about the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ ask 10 000 Lagos dwelling (and possibly all of Nigeria) Nigerians to enter their postcode in a website. An incredible majority would uniformly enter 2341. That could not be further from the truth. 234 1 is the international dialing code to call a Lagos telephone number.
Post Codes are an important ingredient in organizing the addressing system in a nation.
Like with many thing in Nigeria, the Nigerian post code system is a huge mess and this has gone on to creating complexities in making deliveries, organizing people within areas etc. (It is a wonder how NIPOST has been allowed to steadily rot to practical non existence for the last decade. Not that it was any good before that).
My friend Sanusi has proven the above baseless.
Basically, postcodes could be made more ubiquitous.
But I digress.
In this post I’d like to proffer a quite simple solution to reactivating the postcode system especially as it concerns the eCommerce sector of the economy.
- ALL Nigerian eCommerce companies and new age logistics providers especially the big players have to buy into a single solution. They are quite fond of doing things independently and secretly. This solution has to be independent aka open.
- NIPOST and government would contribute by giving moral support and getting out of the way.
While initially thinking of this problem, I wanted us to recreate a new postcode or even addressing system for Nigeria. However, it may be easier to build the existing postcode system first.
Yes, Nigeria has a Post Code System.
I’ll suggest starting with Lagos than proceeding to other states. From the product end, I foresee the following steps in realizing the goal.
- Create an easily searchable database/spreadsheet of all the street names, their corresponding post codes, areas, LGAs etc. and of course the corresponding location on a map
- Clean up the street name spellings and formats. Is it Awolowo Way, Obafemi Awolowo Way or Chief Obafemi Awolowo Way? Clean up can be continuous, so step 3 is not dependent on the completion of step 2.
- Create a simple address plugin that calls that database to for websites that require addresses. The plugin would be used to populate the address fields. The plug in would look like a simple form below
- How it would work is, If you put in your postcode only, the street field would have a drop-down of all the streets covered by that postcode. If you do not know your post code, clicking the location button would bring up a map. Selecting your street from the map would pre-populate the fields by guessing their location from a map
- A simple but specifically important detail is that while searching for a street name or area name, every part of the word would be searched. So you do not miss a street by typing Awolowo instead of starting with “Chief “
- The big 5 eCommerce companies and top 3 logistics firms would agree to integrate this plugin and require ALL customers to input post codes. This is the most important aspect required for this to work. A system is only useful if it is adopted. Thankfully, this is something the private sector can push without requiring the government to interfere.
So How Do We get This Done?
Without consulting my developer buddies, I know the core of this can be implemented in 20 hours over a weekend. Give me Tim Akinbo, Ope Obembe and Kene Udeze (Along with a carton of STAR, peppered snail and Ribena for Kene) and we’ll do the magic. My job is to share the booze and take glory at the end of it all
All that we ask in return is the commitment of Konga, Jumia and 3 other big ecommerce companies to implement this and we are good to go.
Knowing my country people, I will not be surprised if someone is looking for how to send a proposal to those in government and get paid millions to do this.
Not every-time hammer from government. Sometimes help your country to help you 😉
BTW, either of the big lads can easily do this internally. However, the essence of this project is for it to be a collaboration or an independent effort. We have seen a lot of “my own my own” efforts but those do not get adopted because ulterior movies are usually suspected. Thereby making everyone lose out.
- A mobile version of this can be implemented. One button to get the Postcode/Address of any Location you are in.
- Nigeria needs to review and update it’s addressing system. Asides Abuja (thanks to El Rufai) navigating addresses is a huge maze. After this is piloted and succeeds, we can then push for the reorganization of our entire addressing system and of course NIPOST.
- In another short post (make e be like say I be prolific blogger) , I’ll explain a few non logistics but important usecases for a proper postcode system.
Thanks Ope and Tim for your feedback.