Kaban: The answer to the Philippines’ shopping cart issues?

Me neglecting this blog is an understatement. My most “recent” post was last February. Cripe. Well, my husband is now officially resigned from his day job—somebody would be around to nag me to keep this blog up-to-date. Besides, our company website is now sporting its new design—which means, I’ll have more time to blog here and actually release the themes I’ve been meaning to finish.

So anyway, I was invited last Wednesday with a few other bloggers at the Yehey! Office in Mandaluyong for a dinner and a sponsored podcast. It was basically to discuss their new service called, Kaban. Too bad the recording got corrupted—it had been quite a good discussion.

I was actually very interested on what Jonas and Eugene of Kaban had to say, to be honest. Why? Well, for one thing, Paypal isn’t fully functional in the Philippines. A payment gateway specific for Philippine use would be a great alternative. Besides, Marc and I have been looking for other payment gateway options that we can recommend to our clients who want shopping carts.

If you’re living in the Philippines, you can actually sign up for a Paypal account. But the thing is, you can’t do anything with it except to send money. Kind of defeats the purpose for e-commerce, don’t you think? There have been talks that Paypal Philippines would be fully functional by 2007. Well, it’s 2007 already and we still can’t do shit with our Paypal accounts.

Along came Kaban. Jonas said that it’s been around awhile now, and Kaban is basically a re-launching of the service. How it works? Well, kind of like Paypal actually, but within the confines of Philippine banking laws—your credit card info won’t be recorded. You got to input it every time you process an order using this Java app calculator thing.

Our design company uses osCommerce for shopping cart requirements—we’ve got some nastily good programmers who can customize the cart to the hilt. As of the moment, most of our Philippine-based clients who are using a cart don’t use payment gateways (they opt for cart-to-email setups) and those who do have 2checkout (2CO) accounts installed. But if you ask me, I’d honestly say that 2CO can give Kaban a run for their money.

Kaban is a payment gateway that I won’t recommend to our clients who are just starting up. The setup fee is about $1,000 (and it’s even slated to increase within the year), as opposed to 2Checkout’s $49. Pretty steep, eh?

But here’s the catch. I cannot really “put down” Kaban that easily in terms of cost. Because unlike 2CO, Kaban offers payment through ATM and G-Cash (this is a special feature of a mobile service provider here in the Philippines where users can store cash using their mobile phone account), and they do allow some of 2CO’s prohibitive products—no additional requirements are needed for “restricted products.”

Applying for a credit card here in our country is very difficult, but getting an ATM is much, much easier. Just give the balance requirement, accomplish the bank forms, and present two legal IDs—there you have it: your own ATM account. But with credit cards, to apply who have to really prove that you have the capacity to pay—the bank really investigates first before allowing you to posses that sacred credit card.

That’s why I think in the aspect of payment options, Kaban rules. They just really suck with the setup fee part 😛 But then again, these assumptions are made under the premise that if a company is serious about selling online, they’d think of it as an investment and not as an expense. $1,000 is worth a lot around here, so business-owners really ought to do some research first before jumping the gun and throwing away that amount of money. Businesses opting to use Kaban will more or less have an idea of their projected income and when they’ll get the return for this investment.

At the moment, Kaban caters only to Philippine-based companies needing payment gateways—though Jonas did say that are planning on expanding. And for your osCommerce fanatics out there, good news. Kaban provides an easy-to-install module for your cart (and I think it also works with X-Cart, which is basically a mod of osCommerce).

2CO would probably still be a “better” Paypal alternative, but I honestly think that Kaban would be a better option for business that would like a wider consumer base by being able to tap the greater ATM users—or for those companies who are paranoid about transacting with a foreign company and would rather transact with one that is bound by our restrictive banking laws.

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