People think that a lack of readily available credit cards is what has led to a completely non-existent E-commerce situation in Fiji. After now spending weeks trying to work with local banks, we are wholeheartedly here to tell you, that is absolutely ‘not’ the case.
The reason that there is almost no E-commerce in Fiji is primarily due to Reserve Bank policies that are unfortunately suppressing Fiji’s push forward into a new ‘e’-era. IMPORTANT CAVEAT: We are not here to take a position on the merits of ‘tight’ or ‘loose’ cash access via local and foreign financial instruments and its effects on macroeconomic national monetary policy… for that is a debate well above our pay grade. We are sure there is solid reasoning behind the current policies.
That being said, we are fully aware of the direct result of these policies, that small and middle size retailers can’t ‘e’-grow via the internet. They are being forced to still try and grow through increasing outdated ways of transacting commerce, namely making cash and cheque deals with locals and by forcing overseas people to wire money. Will your average ordinary Internet citizen who is looking to buy something for personal consumption, wire money in order to make a personal purchase of a Fiji product? We think not.
The sad situation is that Fiji retailers, start-ups and savvy marketers cannot easily sell their goods and services to overseas buyers via E-commerce, not even to Fiji expats living abroad who want to purchase goods/gifts for locals back home.
Here are the main problems;
a) Fiji businesses cannot currently link up their website’s e-commerce shopping cart/ payment gateway to PayPal which is the world’s largest and most proven e-commerce gateway. PayPal is fast, easy and trusted the world over and so, so simple to link up to… but Fiji banks can’t/won’t work with it.
b) The banks here in Fiji, due to local Reserve Bank policies and requirements, cannot easily set-up their gateway systems to link with standard, conventional online shopping cart software that is readily available everywhere on the Internet.
The payment gateways offered by Fiji banks are much different, and more difficult to integrate, than what they offer their customers in Australia or NZ. We have tried… to set-up live, real-time e-commerce situations for retailers, tourism operators, auto rental companies, government agencies, and many, many more… and the custom programming work required to hook-up to pre-established, easy to install, online shopping software and payment systems is generally insufferable, insurmountable or outright impossible. Most just drop it… and then it’s right back to the ‘old school’ ways.
Think about it… debit cards are increasingly popular here in Fiji. So then why aren’t E-commerce options increasing as well? If any banker, accountant, financial expert, money manager, policy maker, etc., is reading this, PLEASE try and figure out a way to open up E-commerce in Fiji. We have 50+ clients that would be immediately interested and there’d be a thousand more nationwide that would quickly follow suit.
Maybe we are wrong… maybe it is all very easy to do? If a smart bank wants to work with dozens and dozens of local businesses by helping them grow a new revenue stream, then please show us how it can be EASILY done. Link us up through WooCommerce, Magneto, Shopify software and more… and link us in to PayPal, Authroize.Net, Stripe.com and more. If the lack of an e-way is due to fiscal policy, then please try to work with the government to find a solution, there is so much more Fiji can sell to the world and prosper, but the world out there wants to pay us with a credit card. Vinaka vakalevu.