A while back on TechCabal we introduced Fonenode, a pioneering service that enables developers to make and receive phone calls as well as send and receive text messages using its telephony API. In collaboration with Hotels.ng, they have just pulled another first by launching Nigeria’s  if not Africa’s  first click-to-call button. Webmasters can now allow users make toll free calls to their call centre right from inside their browsers. No special software download is required, just the supported browsers – the latest Firefox, Google chrome and Internet Explorer.

The service already launched last Thursday, with Hotels.ng as pilot. Mark Essien, Founder and CEO Hotels.ng believes, “the easier it is to book a hotel, the more bookings we will have. A button that calls straight from the browser is the easiest way of making a hotel booking, and that’s what Fonenode has given us.” Users can access this feature by clicking the drop-down menu, top right of the Hotels.ng website, and selecting “call us for free”.

Since the company implementing this feature pays for the calls, this will no doubt increase consumer interest substantially. But it also raises the issue of prank callers. Oo Nwoye, Co-founder and CEO Fonenode, assures that they are looking to address this by implementing a filtering system that will require users to signup to the website first, so they have their details and some idea of who the user is.

I’m a strong advocate for everything mobile so I was curious as to whether Fonenode plans to support mobile browsers. Oo Nwoye made me understand that though they’re yet to test it, it should ordinarily work on any mobile browser that supports WebRTC. WebRTC is the open-source technology that makes it possible for the in-browser calls to be made without any installation requirements on the user’s side. So far, I have tried unsuccessfully to make calls using Chrome for Android (which, along with Firefox for Android, happens to support WebRTC), you can share your experiences. Not that it is an immediately pressing need but, I would love to see Fonenode cater to mobile browsers sometime in the future.

Since its initial launch with Hotels.ng, Fonenode has had another integration with an eCommerce company called SimplyInfants. You can visit the Fonenode blog for more info on how to setup the Fonenode call button on your website.

Muyiwa Matuluko Author

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