Telenor Pakistan, under the umbrella of EasyPay, is working on introducing Escrow payments in Pakistan. This feature will enable its EasyPay consumers to keep payments on hold — even after making the payment — for a certain duration before releasing the funds to merchants/receivers.
Omar Moeen Malik, Director Strategy and Payments for Easypaisa at Telenor Pakistan, told me that they are in the process of finalizing the product that will be launched within the next few weeks. For this purpose, the Easypaisa team is working closely with some leading merchants to determine market demands and users’ needs to come up with terms and conditions that will acceptable for everyone.
Ideally speaking, buyers will have an option to recall their payment within 7-10 days (or any period that is mutually agreed between buyer and seller) at the time of placing an order. Not to mention, the buyer won’t be allowed to recall a payment just because they changed their mind after placing the order, instead if delivery is not made during committed period or if product delivered is different than the advertised product then they will be able to raise a complaint with Easypay to recall the payment.
While paying with escrow service, funds are held and not transferred to merchant until product/service is delivered
For those who aren’t familiar, with escrow payments a user/buyer makes a payment that is deducted from his/her account immediately but funds are withheld with the payment solution provider (Easypay in this case) and aren’t transferred to seller/merchant for a certain duration.
Escrow payments are especially useful in cases where trust level between buyers and sellers is low as payments are held with a third-party unless the service/product is delivered to the buyer.
In case of any disputes or non-delivery of product/service — terms and conditions are usually defined beforehand — the buyer is given an option to recall their funds safely and securely.
The Pakistani ecommerce industry is worth USD 100 million dollar at the moment, and also has the potential to grow to a multi-billion dollar market within the next few years. We are currently undergoing a similar situation where trust levels between buyers and sellers are low, with ecommerce stores not being straight with their promotions. This is probably why more than 95% of ecommerce transactions in Pakistan are COD (Cash on Delivery) where customers pay only when they see and feel the product in their hands.
Cash on Delivery, while its easy and simple method of payment and does the job, also comes with countless hassles for both the sellers and buyers. For example a seller has to pay extra to a courier company to manage payments, funds are withheld with courier companies for several weeks for operational and procedural reasons. As for the buyer, they have to keep cash in hand at home and wait for the delivery boy to collect the product and make the payment.
Escrow payments are useful in cases where trust level between buyers and sellers is low as payments are held unless service/product is delivered to the buyer
While various online payment solutions are being offered by leading ecommerce stores, cash on delivery still rules in the Pakistani commerce industry and as mentioned above, the buyer is more comfortable with COD just because they don’t have to pay until they can verify their purchase in person.
Advance online payment is a naturally preferred mode of payment for sellers and at times buyers too want to pay online and beforehand. But they just don’t due to lack of trust on e-commerce stores for reasons that we have discussed at various stages in the past.
Here escrow payments are going to come into play where the buyer will pay in advance but will trust that payment is not through to the seller until the requested purchase is delivered. Moreover, they can also make sure — before releasing the payment — that the seller has shipped the promised and advertised product.
More details on Easypay’s escrow service should be expected in the coming days.
It merits mentioning here that the escrow service will be a feature of EasyPay, Telenor’s online payment solution for merchants in Pakistan.