The internet might be global, but most businesses still operate locally
In the second decade of the new millennium, the internet governs much of our lives - and those who aren’t connected tend to struggle in an increasingly tech-happy society.
As far as business is concerned, the internet is an indispensable tool, permitting worldwide commerce from the dining room table. Indeed, the idea of the internet making every business global by default isn’t an unusual one - but is it true?
According to the BBC, Nigeria has the second-largest economy in Africa and one of the most sophisticated internet networks.
However, its future development in this area is likely to be slow. The country had 99m internet users in 2020, equating to just under half of the country, but it may take until 2025 to add another twenty percentage points to that figure, bringing it to 65%.
If nothing changes, Nigeria won’t hit 100% coverage for another two decades or more.
Nigeria’s priorities are a little different from the rest of the world, though. The Guardian newspaper’s Nigerian offshoot indicates that industrialisation is the immediate concern for ministers.
Dr Caesar Osaheni Iyayi of Caesar Engineering and Construction Limited believes that harnessing Nigeria’s natural resources and investing in manufacturing could help the country become more self-sufficient by creating everything that needs to be made on home soil.
While the above might seem like a rather insular approach to securing the future of local businesses, the world isn’t going anywhere. There’s also the feeling that the planet isn’t as accessible as the internet makes it seem for smaller companies.
After all, access to something isn’t the same as holding it in your hand. Due to varying rules and regulations, local conditions, and shipping and import/export costs, many companies avoid international trade until further growth is deemed necessary.
For instance, in the software world, video games are usually region-locked due to a concept called price discrimination.
This means that titles cannot be played outside their country of purchase because they cost less to purchase there.
Without this region lock, players from, e.g. the United States, could buy games from the Philippines at much lower prices, potentially harming a retailer’s profits.
Overall, this kind of thing can restrict growth and make sure some studios remain unknown outside their own country.
Today, Business deals and agreement can be made over the internet.
As mentioned, different rules and legal concerns also have implications for software companies.
While Cloud services and app development also must heed key legalities, the most obvious example of the law affecting the availability of software is the online casino industry.
Websites usually have to apply for a license to operate in particular jurisdictions. In places like the United States and India, this can work on a state-level, with many popular gambling sites restricting themselves to the northeast of the US.
This method of focusing on certain jurisdictions applies across the industry.
Take Casino Cruise, an operator whose nautical theme might give off the impression of having a wide and changing list of jurisdictions, for example. It is nevertheless only available in certain countries and languages.
The obvious question here is why? An extensive Casino Cruise review from Casino Countdown reveals that payment options, bonus deals, and even games all have restrictions on where they’re allowed to exist in the world, in this case, mainly the United Kingdom, South Africa and Canada.
For those companies that want to operate globally by default, though, it’s still possible, provided they have all their legal ducks in a row.
The evolution of payment providers and the uptake of cryptocurrencies means that the world’s borders are increasingly ephemeral.
Bitcoin, for example, is accessible in just about every country on earth and has even been known to fill in for fiat currencies where local economies have fallen flat, such as in Venezuela.
Ultimately, the decision to operate worldwide or just at home is not so much enforced as chosen.
Yes, legal considerations can prevent some businesses from operating correctly or at all in certain areas, but there’s not a great deal anybody can do about that.
Companies can overcome just about everything else with paperwork, the appropriate payment providers, or just by throwing money at third parties.
To give an example of the latter, World of Warcraft can only operate in China because Blizzard handed the reins to a Chinese company.
The flexibility of world business is good news for Nigerian entrepreneurs, whether they invite the world into their offices or stick to bricks-and-mortar stores on the local high street.