A new payment service that lets South Africans lay-by their online purchases 

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Over recent years as credit card solutions and online shopping have begun making a name for themselves in the retail world, the age-old method of lay-bying was the main way South Africans used to pay for purchases in instalments.

But as the convenience of technology took over, this method began fading away and is today limited to small-time shops in town and city centres where credit isn’t an option. But don’t count lay-bys out just yet as one entrepreneur has found a way to bring them into the modern internet space.

Twenty-two-year-old William Thubakgale created LayBy Café, a local online payment gateway that allows merchants to give their customers the option to transact online through lay-bying.

The service works like any other payment gateway; upon checkout, you’re given a list of various payment options, including a Layby Café checkout.

By selecting the lay-by option, you’ll be redirected to the Layby Café website to complete the transaction and make a deposit payment of between 10% and 15% of your cart’s total to secure the goods.

After you’ve paid your deposit, the merchant will be notified to reserve the goods pending full payment from the customer and as soon as you cover the rest of your payment, Layby Café will let the merchant know they should release the goods and have them deliver it to you, if the merchant offers the option.

But the Polokwane native and self-taught developer is definitely not a new face to online entrepreneurship.  He previously founded QPLAY, a music service that allows users to purchase music on any device through airtime, EFT and credit credit cards.

William Thubakgale
William Thubakgale

Having been in ecommerce for a number of years, Thubakgale says he decided to launch his own venture after realising that during marketing campaigns at his old job, they couldn’t find customers who didn’t have credit cards and were able to pay for goods that they were interested in all at once.

“We looked for a way that could hook the customer by committing to buy what they say they are interested in by paying a deposit amount and the balance over a period of time,” Thubakgale.

At the moment, LayBy Café is available on the Posh Patterns – Men’s Formal ShirtsFashion Church and Posh Material online shops.

“Posh Patterns is so far our most successful merchant,” adds Thubkgale. “Since partnering with them, we’ve helped increase their overall conversions by 45% through enabling their customers to pay through lay-by.”

Though credit cards are the common payment method across most ecommerce sites in the country, Thubakgale says his concepts taps into a market that’s often left out from transacting on a lot of websites.

“The majority of South Africans that are being marketed to don’t have credit cards or even qualify for credit. What Layby Café offers customers is an interest free payment option without the risk of being blacklisted if failing to pay for the goods,” he says. “Merchants benefit from being able to sell to these masses – it opens them up to a broader market.”

According to Layby Café’s stats, 2 350 customers have used the service since it launched earlier this year.

“Since this is the first of this kind service in Africa, our aim is to create case studies around the whole concept. We want to integrate the software into as many online stores as possible and measure the response we receive from the customers to better refine the platform,” he explains about his future plans. “We will further be penetrating bricks-and-mortar retailers offering them an automated lay-by solution that enables them to process lay-by’s without all the hustles and admin that come with the whole system.”

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