Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Angola...needing more mobile

Written by Liz Galpin Tuesday, 26 July 2011 09:33
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SO much happening in the whole mobile money / mobile transactions world at the moment…This blog is reflecting on the week just past.

From Nigeria I hear that 18 mobile money licences have been granted – having participated in a very active Linked In discussion on how agents are going to cope with all the various systems and reconciliation between them, it seems as though none of the mobile money solutions have provided STK apps to the Agents, and in many cases USSD interfaces are needed for the Agents to transact. Quite a lot for an Agent to take on board / remember / and do to service customers across several mobile money platforms. Interesting to see how that all unfolds – I’m still sticking with my theory that we’re not going to see another M-PESA success story in another country besides Kenya. Oh – we’ll see comparable success stories, but not a runaway, single success as we’ve witnessed in Kenya. There are now too many players in the market, in most developing countries. It appears that the most sensible thing would be to develop an app / system / POS terminal for Agents which enables them to link into all the mobile money platforms in Nigeria, to reconcile their floats and to keep track of how much money has been transacted via each platform.

From Zimbabwe, Dave informed me that his presentations to the governor on various PAYG solutions had been favourably received. The governor wanted a bit more information on how our systems could change the lives of ordinary citizens, so I had a thoroughly enjoyable few hours – I sat down to write up how our systems, correctly implemented, could help to rebuild and regenerate Zimbabwe – I could hardly type quickly enough – didn’t even have to think hardly at all, and the words just came tumbling out. In a nut-shell, here you have it all.

Mobile Money
·         Will assist with the flow of money and regeneration of the economy. As has been proven in other successful mobile money implementations, the collective wealth of those people at the Bottom of the Pyramid adds up to a substantial amount
·         More money becomes available in the formal sector
·         Allows people working in the towns and cities to send money back home to their homelands easily and cheaply
·         Assists with personal safety because folk are no longer carrying cash on their person, or in their home
·         Allows currently unbanked people to start saving small amounts of money and putting some aside for a rainy day
·         Allows currently unbanked people to pay their utility bills easily – everyone scores in this way – more bills are paid, and people are more productive because they don’t need to waste time standing in queues. Same holds good for the reverse – salary paments into a mobile money account saves endless effort and risk

MFI Solution
·         MFIs already exist and operate in Zimbabwe. By giving MFIs our kopesha system, which is hosted centrally, ‘in the cloud’ it means they spend substantially less on their IT.
·         Our Kopesha platform allows them to manage their loan portfolio more efficiently
·         The Field Officer functionality / handset means that better ‘tabs’ can be kept on both the Field Officers and the customers. The fact that all transactions are recorded in real-time improves the auditability, decreases the risk of corruption, and means that Field Officers are not operating ‘blindly’ while out in the field. At all times they have real-time access to the state of customer’s loans and savings
·         The functionality we give customers, by USSD or SMS , and the fact that we keep customers informed on the status of their loans and payments via SMS, inspires confidence in the MFI and helps them keep on top of their finances
·         If the MFIs are showing that they are managing their finances profitably, this in turn encourages more investment, which allows more people to borrow and potentially improve themselves.
·         NGOs and Aid Agencies will invest more readily if they can see that the money is being invested wisely and to good use.
·         Our solution allows disbursal of cash loans, as well as product loans. Product loans include agricultural products (water pumps, tractors, feed, seed, fertiliser), solar products, toilets, woodburning stoves, the list is endless…..

Mobile Agriculture
·         Allows farmers to benefit by improving their cash flow. They are either paid as soon as their produce is delivered, or, if that isn’t possible, they have access to cash (determined by how much produce they have delivered), by being able to borrow against their earnings / produce. (we provide handset apps to those people responsible for picking up of produce, or at the delivery points, on which they can record in real-time the farmers’ details and his produce)
·         Encourages farmers to sell into the formal sector, rather than at the farm gate for cash.
·         The improved cash flow or access to cash allows the farmers to buy goods that are needed from the Agro Merchants in order to ensure their future crops / produce. They can buy seeds and fertilisers when they need them, rather than having to wait until they have the money to do so.
·         This will ultimately lead to better yields / production and more food / wealth / export for everyone.

On Saturday, I read a supplement in the Telegraph on how Angola is being rebuilt and rejuvenated economically. Brilliant! I read it from cover to cover – no mention of mobile money or mobile technologies, but reading through the supplement, it was evident that mobile money and technologies could play their part in the economic development of this country. I might put out some feelers……
I ask myself - why am I doing this on a Saturday morning when I’ve promised myself a weekend off work? It’s not for money (en ce moment) – must be for love, I guess…..Or steadfast belief that the technologies we’re working on, correctly implemented and with the right support and backing, IS going to lead to regeneration of economies, and ability of emerging markets to fully emerge and take their rightful place in the world’s economy.

Liz Galpin is the founder of PayG Solutions and the author of the recently published, ''Will There Be Another MPESA?''

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