Short background story:

On 13/05/2013 I decided to renew my subscription and like is my normal practice, I headed to Quickteller.  After entering my card details, PIN and CVV number I was redirected to a never seen before page where I was told to enter an SMS OTP (one time password) that had been sent to my phone number, before my transaction could be consummated.

I waited…and waited…and waited…and as at the time of penning this post (15/05/2013) I am still waiting for the OTP from the almighty Interswitch.[1]

I thought it was just restricted to just Quickteller, which is owned by Interswitch, so I headed to, went through the normal loops, was directed to GTpay which redirected me to Interswitch webpay and that “SMS OTP” nonsense came up again, until now, there has been no SMS from them. After getting frustrated, I had to walk down the road and buy a physical card which is something I have not done in like 2 years or so [2].

How Interswitch killed e-commerce in Nigeria – enforcing SMS one time passwords

Twitter, Facebook, Google are doing 2 factor authentication, why don’t we?

Whoever thought about sending one time passwords to mobile phones of e-commerce transaction initiator must have been high on some cheap shoe glue. This is Nigeria where Telcos can do whatever they want, a place where you can send an SMS that you will be charged for but might never have delivered, so it kind of beats me why anyone would base the success of an e-commerce transaction on the mercy of an unreliable factor like SMS delivery.

Even if they wanted to prevent unauthorized usage of debit cards, I am online already and Interswitch has my email address, so why doesn’t Interswitch send their so-called OTP to my email address? at least email delivery is more reliable than SMS [3].

This new feature is an ill thought out one and needs to be trashed or suspended until Nigerian telcos become more reliable.


[1] On observation, I noticed that the first time you initiate a transaction, the sms OTP gets delivered promptly but if you are doing a series of transactions in quick succession, the other OTP’s never get delivered to your mobile phone. I don’t know if it’s a network latency issue or a delay put in by Interswitch to prevent gaming their system.

[2] I do not know of anyone who would need something done urgently online and would actually wait for Interswitch without abandoning the transaction just like I did.

[3] This is not rocket science because as long as my supplied email address isn’t wrong, the email will get to me almost immediately.

This post was originally published on Aito’s blog.

Aito Ehigie is a factory worker by day and coder by night. Follow him on Twitter here.

Password designed by Joe Harrison.

Aito Ehigie Author

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