E-commerce in Sri Lanka is infamous for being complicated and cumbersome. Why? Because one way or the other you’ve always had to deal with banks and their aging technology. Yet, in recent months there’s been progress with the revival of PayHere and Nations Trust Bank introducing an API. And now Mastercard has announced the launch of Simplify Commerce in Sri Lanka.
“The initial response from our local customers and partners has been very encouraging. We are working together on integrating it into their existing systems. We look forward to more merchants and consumers availing the convenience and security of digital payments through our solutions such as Simplify Commerce,” said R. B. Santosh Kumar, Country Manager – Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Mastercard.
But what exactly is Simplify Commerce?
This is a payment gateway by Mastercard, which is aimed at small and medium businesses. With it, merchants can accept payments online, in-app, and in person using the Simplify virtual terminal. It also allows them to create an online store, custom invoices and sell products via social media.
And like many other platforms, Simplify Commerce offers a dashboard to analyze your payment data. Similarly, it also offers a bunch of features for developers as well. This includes SDKs in 9 languages, OAuth 2.0 for authentication, webhook support, and more. It does include support for Apple Pay and Android Pay as well. Of course, both platforms are yet to be supported in Sri Lanka.
However, if you want to get access to this payment gateway by Mastercard, it’s not as simple as filling in a registration form on their website. Instead, you’ll have to visit the bank or a financial institution. At the moment, we’re not sure, which banks specifically offer Simplify Commerce as Mastercard has only said it, “is now available to acquiring banks and non-banking financial institutions”
How does this affect Sri Lankan e-commerce?
Currently, Simplify Commerce isn’t causing any major upheavals in Sri Lankan e-commerce. Nonetheless, this is a step forward. Simplify Commerce allows the banks to offer a stronger e-commerce solution with better technology underneath.
But at the end of the day is worth it? That’s hard to say as Mastercard hasn’t shared the cost of carrying out transactions via Simplify Commerce. As such, we can’t say whether it truly is a platform for small and medium-sized businesses to consider. Yet, the biggest issue here would be accessibility. Why? Because you’d have to visit a bank and strike a deal to utilize Simplify Commerce.
In contrast, locally built payment platforms such as PayHere and PAYable allow you to easily sign up by filling a form on their websites. Additionally, PayHere openly shares how much it costs for a business to utilize the platform. At the end of the day, Simplify Commerce by Mastercard is a nice platform that strengthens the e-commerce offerings by banks. But making it more accessible and open would go a long way in helping convince small business owners to move online.