Assessment of Current Buyer Behavior in Market
The government continues to advance Liberia’s telecommunication sector through the international fiber optic cable, an initiative that supports online business. Presently, no known in-country partner is technically ready to support an ecommerce platform.
Local eCommerce Sales Rules & Regulations
Ecommerce, which includes electronic payment (e-payment) systems, is not well-developed in Liberia. This is also true for mobile money, due to the lack of a “national switch” payment clearing system between mobile money operators. The CBL regulates online sales and payments by virtue of its position as a regulator of the financial market. Limited ICT infrastructure, low digital skillsets, and lack of clear rules and regulations are key barriers businesses potentially face when entering Liberia and selling either to other businesses or to retail customers (B2B or B2C) via online channels. In January 2020, the CBL published the first regulations on the licensing and operation of electronic payment services in Liberia.
Local eCommerce Business Service Provider Ecosystem
E-commerce or digital marketing platforms have not fully developed in Liberia due to the limited ICT infrastructure and low digital skillset. The country does not have a functioning national payment switch. While mobile phones are widely used in Liberia, internet penetration is low. While there is not a well-developed ecommerce platform, the use of mobile money is expanding.
Only four of the nine commercial banks offer Visa credit and debit cards to their customers, provide access to withdrawals at automatic teller machines (ATMs), and allow cashless payment at point of sale (POS) terminals. Visa credit and debit cards are accepted for payment of goods and services (via POS) at some commercial facilities, mostly large hotels, a few supermarkets, and large consumer stores. For example, Ecobank Visa cards are available in about 30 African countries and can be used to purchase goods and services online.
Mobile money services are available in most parts of the country, particularly in Liberian dollars. These services include remittances, payments for goods and services, tax payments, as well as payments of civil servants’ salaries. However, Liberia is primarily a cash-based economy at the retail level. Additional advances in mobile money services and usage depend on the CBL’s long-delayed establishment of its planned clearing system between mobile money operators.