Hurray! The Frontline Credit Project is back up and running! The :Credit project lowers barriers to moving value through mobile, whether through mobile money, airtime, or voucher codes. We research mobile money trends and insert ourselves in markets around the world so that we know where strong and upcoming markets are currently and can predict where they will create huge impact in the near future. We are also investigating where they don’t yet exist and where they are failing to get traction and can advise companies and governments on the steps they must take to create a flourishing mobile money ecosystem. One way FrontlineSMS: Credit is adding extra value to the mobile money market is through offering codes tied to accounts and balances, such as insurance policies, warranties, logistics and stock tracking, and voucher-based payments. Our :Credit team support users all over the world, in any sector, to think about how mobile money systems will add value and improve their already impactful work.
In 2014, we will be adding a new module, Payments, to our software suite. Payments will be part of the familiar FrontlineSMS and FrontlineCloud interface, but will allow you to send, track and receive mass mobile payments, vouchers and airtime, wherever you are - as well as all the SMS functionality you’re used to from us. FrontlineCloud integration opens the door to easy integrations with mobile money systems offering APIs, in the future. This would be one of the first systems of its kind, capable of managing payments from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection. We’ll also be building scheduled messaging and structured data into all of our software in the next two years, making the payments functionality even more powerful.
The prototype version of Payments, PaymentView, has already been tested by ten organizations in Kenya. It reduced payment processing times for a small savings collective by 85 percent, and increased average client savings by 50 percent.
The Kenya project: Mobile Money for Rural Enterprises in the Developing World
The development and testing of Payments is generously funded by a grant from the DFID Global Poverty Action Fund (GPAF), which will allow us to support 40 financial institutions, organizations, schools and small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in four rural provinces of Kenya. These organizations will use Payments, tied to Safaricom’s M-Pesa mobile money at an enterprise scale. Our users will be empowered to provide critical services more efficiently and effectively to remote, rural and low-income populations, and will provide critical feedback and testing on our new product. We are currently recruiting Kenya-based partner organizations and will start working with our first fifteen enterprises in the next three months, using our prototype software, PaymentView, with the other 25 to follow throughout 2014 and 2015. The project will inform our global strategy, and the development of Payments. If you are interested in being one of the partners, please email us.
The next two years
Our Payments module will be integrated into both FrontlineSMS and FrontlineCloud softwares, using an Android app and web-based connections to send, receive and manage payments and airtime transfers. We’re actively seeking new partnerships with aggregators, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), financial institutions and organizations serving unique and challenging base of the pyramid populations in order to spread our user base and our users’ options globally. In addition, as part of the Social Impact Lab’s mission to identify and lower barriers to social change through mobile, we’ll be pursuing a few other projects:
- Through advocacy and our own example, encouraging the development of a shared API for mobile money operators (MMOs) all over the world, making it easier for users to transfer mobile money from one provider to another (within the bounds of regulation)
- Identifying niche and large markets around the world which have not yet realized the impact of mobile money management tools, and conducting advocacy and pilots in these markets to support take-up
- Developing alternatives to mobile money for enterprise value transfer needs, such as airtime top-ups and vouchers. These mechanisms can also be useful to organizations working with populations that are hard to reach because of security concerns, location, or a lack of, or breakdown in infrastructure. For example, aid organizations will be able to use Payments in humanitarian disasters to deliver life-saving food vouchers directly to the affected population’s mobile phones, or small organizations can mobilize and support remote community workers and clients with airtime transfers.
We hope you are excited about the possibilities presented here and would love to hear from you! Stay tuned!