Danson Muchemi, 31, is the founder of JamboPay, Kenya’s leading Online Payment Gateway. JamboPay, which was founded in 2009, now has more than 1,500 institutional clients and processes more than $50 million in payments every year. The company has a presence in Kenya, Tanzania and Senegal and is expanding to 4 additional countries before the end of 2015.
I caught up with him recently in Nairobi and we chatted briefly about JamboPay’s model, service offering and future plans.
What’s your personal and professional background?
I am the CEO of JamboPay and a firm believer in deploying technology for the good of humanity. I was born and raised in Nyandarua County in central Kenya. I attended Gikeno Primary School and then proceeded to Nguviu Boys High School before joining Strathmore University for a diploma in Management Information Systems. Subsequently, I successfully pursued a Bsc degree in Telecommunications and Information Technology at Kenyatta University. While at Primary School, the enterprise bug bit me after my parents bought me rabbits, which breed fast and had to sell. At the University the enterprise malady got severe and I found myself starting and running a enterprise at the University. I founded JamboPay at age 25.
What are the origins of JamboPay?
I founded JamboPay in 2009. I attempted to set up an e-commerce shop but could not find a reliable local payment gateway to process payments for the web shop. I joined hands with a friend to set up JamboPay to address the payments gap then. We did not have funds to hire a proper office among other things and so we settled for a Cyber Cafe. At the Cyber Cafe, we leased a single computer for Ksh 4,500 ($50) per month. It was at the Cyber Cafe that we wrote our Company Mission, Vision and our initial business plan. We kept our costs low and as such managed to utilize little financial resources to start. In retrospect, our startup cost was less than $1,000. For 6 months, we operated from the Cyber Cafe. We were just two of us. Today JamboPay employs 105 employees- 68 of them being permanent with the rest on part time contract. JamboPay today serves over 1500 clients.
Explain JamboPay’s service offering.
JamboPay is an innovative Payments service provider. We help businesses and Government organizations to collect and disburse money electronically. The popular terms in the market – “Cashless” and “Cashlite” simply means JamboPay. JamboPay processes payments for Kenyan e-commerce sites, billers, ticketing companies, retailers and governments. We customize our services to suit clients’ needs. We present our service across various delivery platforms such as mobile, web and physical agency networks. We bridge Telcos and Banks for Merchants and Consumers.
Tell us about JamboPay’s current portfolio, customers and expansion plans.
JamboPay serves over 1500 clients drawn from Retail, Financial Services, Media, Governments, Billers, education and the Hospitality Industry. We have a unique portfolio of clientele – from Farmers, to Pay TV companies, to Governments. Some of our notable clients include Uchumi Supermarkets, ICEA Insurance, Standard Media Group, Nairobi City Water and Sewarage Company (NCWSC), Sameer Africa, Car & General, Nairobi County Government. We have a partnership with the Nairobi City government whereby we have automated payment of various taxes and services for the County Government through our e-wallet service. The service is known as eJijiPAY. The Nairobi City project is the largest and most successful e-payments project in Eastern and Central Africa- today. Over $40 million has been transacted through the City Service over the last 4 months. From our first day, we set out on a mission to make JamboPay the best payments service provider for Africa out of Africa.
What sort of individual and institutional customers use JamboPay?
Individuals who would like to securely make payments from the comfort of their homes, offices or when traveling use JamboPay. Also, institutions that are keen on providing the convenience of e and m-commerce to their customers are our primary customer. Where there are risks associated with handling of cash, JamboPay comes in handy. Where governments and businesses want to increase revenue collection, and at the same time improve on efficiency and transparency, our services are appropriate.
Is JamboPay going to become more than an online payment gateway?
Yes. Today we provide our services beyond the web domain. We have extended the service to mobile technologies such as USSD, mobile applications and to physical points. A number of our customers use our service to accept payments over the counter.
How does JamboPay make money?
JamboPay makes money from transactions. We charge a small fee for every transaction we process. Sometimes we also charge set up fees where there is need for customizations to client’s specifications. We achieved modest revenues last year. This year we expect further growth driven by increased adoption of electronic payments by government organizations.
JamboPay is fairly established in Kenya. Might you be looking elsewhere for growth, say the rest of Africa?
Indeed we are. At present we have presence in Kenya, Tanzania and Senegal.We plan to be in 7 African countries by the end of 2015 and in 14 countries by 2016. Our Uganda office is expected to be up by end of April this year. Africa is in our focus.
Of all your services, which one has been the most successful, and which one has potential for exponential growth in the medium to long-term?
Our most successful service has been the Bills payments service. A good number of our subscribers use our e-bill payment service to pay for various utility bills such as the Water Bills.
We have recently launched a service for payment of parking fees and government taxes in Nairobi City. This has potential for growth in the medium to long-term. We have services for health insurance payments that will continue to grow in the coming years.
What has been your biggest challenge in running a successful business in Kenya?
From my experiences, there has not been proper startup support mechanisms /frameworks in Kenya. I commend the Government of Kenya for the various measures taken recently to nature and groom young enterprises.