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The Paybills story, as told by Sam Njuwe, Cellulant Zambia Country Manager

Sam Njuwe
Sam Njuwe

Remember how Vinni told you about what Paybills.co.zm is all about?  It launched about a month ago, and today I got to chat with Sam Njuwe, the Country Manager for Cellulant Zambia who are offering the ePayment service.

31-year-old Sam started off as an intern with Cellulant Kenya and grew into the business, familiarizing himself with the products and projects of the company, until he had learned enough about the marketing tools and business development to earn him the move to Zambia to set up and head operations here between 2010-12.

What made them set up in Zambia was growing partnerships that exist with some banks and mobile operations for mobile banking services and merchant utilities, making it necessary to set up shop here as well.

What was it about Zambia at the time?

Like every other African market, mobile services are becoming popular as more people embrace that technology. Cellulant wanted to empower Zambians with technology through which they could make payments and ease their lifestyles.

Paybills.co.zm was set up in partnership with Barclays because they already provide services for and with them and extended that offering to provide ePayment services to their customers as well. Paybills.co.zm is however not only limited to Barclays customers, but anyone with a VISA card.

Will Cellulant partner with digital startups to enhance the platform?

Yes.  We find strength in partnerships and have an open-door policy for partnerships as long as we see that it’s reaching out to customers and helping us serve them better.

To be a partner, we would look at the opportunity the partnership would bring. These would mostly be with utility/service providers and merchants, after looking at their category of customers. The Paybills model is based on partnerships and has very minimal entry requirements. There are no fees, for example, for merchants to register on Paybills.

How much has been invested in setting up Paybills? 

That’s hard to quantify. We’re a tech company so I feel the time spent in designing solutions, the technologies we use, the human resources in business development and analysis, is what I would call the investment we’ve made into Paybills.

How do you think Paybills will benefit the Zambian market? 

It will reach out to all customers with a VISA.Many are using cash to make easy payments. Paybills will let them see how convenient to pay bills from anywhere you are using your VISA card details

People understand eCommerce, but would still rather withdraw money and pay cash in a store, how will Paybills market this ePayment service? 

We are strong on direct marketing as we know many potential and existing customers are on their mobile phones almost all the time. Since we have a partnership with Barclays, customers of the bank get messages that promote the product. We want to get partner merchants like Multichoice help send the message to pay through Paybills on their bulk SMS services to remind customers to use it to settle their DStv bills. We are active on Facebook as well, since that’s the largest social platform that Zambians are using.


What’s next for Paybills? 

We’re here to stay, first of all, so we’ll develop more partnerships, to improve more services

How would you advise entrepreneurs or small businesses about launching digital innovations? 

In technology, the hard work is not in designing and developing a product, but in letting the customers adopt it. You have to take up resilience and consistency. That’s where the real job starts. Many startups fail because they want too much too soon. They are over expectant of their turnovers even within the first month!

In Zambia, there is a lot of work to be done in making users adopt technology especially in the financial space. Government can drive financial inclusions and push for ICT expansion, but other industry players can also take up a role in innovating their products and work with media and advertising industries to educate users on how to use the products.

You can check out Paybills heree, or call their customer care centre on 5950 (toll-free) for more information.


Tech Blogger & Marketer.

2 thoughts on “The Paybills story, as told by Sam Njuwe, Cellulant Zambia Country Manager

  • That interesting . But what they need to do to encourage more people to use it is allow us to pay for goods in select shops and restaurants , cause if its just talktime and utility bills we can just continue using the ZANACO platform etc.

  • Insightful interview

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