Uganda’s Beyonic looks to extend the reach of bulk m-money payments through partnership with Mercy Corps’ Agri-Fin programme
M-money services take-up has taken time but as it passes the “critical mass” moment, two things begin to happen: firstly, their use spreads out beyond the first wave of users and secondly, more sophisticated service elements get built on top. Russell Southwood spoke this week to Luke Kyohere and Dan Kleinbaum about the work they’re doing.
Luke Kyohere had a software business that used to do SMS and mobile technology work. He then went to the USA for “grad school” which is where he met Dan Kleinbaum and together they created the Beyonic platform. They wanted to make it easier for companies and NGOs to make bulk payments:”The pain point was that payments can be made to companies (using m-money systems) but there are few people offering a B2person service. Mostly it’s add-on products by SMS aggregators.”
Their platform allows you to draw down contact information from other software and then make payments which you can manage with rules set up up for payment approval.
Its partnership with Mercy Corps’ Agri-Fin programme came out of a second pain point. Often those paid would go to a mobile money agent and discover that the agent’s cash float was exhausted. The agent had not anticipated so many payments over a short period of time. A recent HELIX, IFC and Micro Save report shows that 35% of agents lose 5 or more transactions a day due to a lack of float & this is primarily due to unpredictable demand.
They set up their system so that it told agents in advance that there was going to be a spike in demand so that he could top up his cash float. It would also be possible to tell him the volume and range of individual payments.
This is phase one but in phase two they envisage being able to match payments to agents in real time. The agents will see the payment and the first to say they can pay out on it will be the one the payee is directed to. This will make the agents more competitive to get the business.
This bulk payment service is only one part of their services for Mercy Corps’ programme: the farmers they work with need a range of financial services. They are connecting 200 mobile farmers with 10,000 mobile money recipients. For example, an agro-dealer may want to pay farmers for their produce. If the person making the payment says this is how it’s going to be made from now on, this will drive adoption.
Also a farmers’ group may run a savings group and may want to make payments to its members. There is also an agri-information service that costs US$1 a year and this will now be collected by the m-money service.
The platform is operator agnostic and will initially work across the Airtel and MTN networks. The business model works on the basis that it either takes a percentage fee on the transactions or an agreed flat fee.
Beyonic has started in Uganda but has plans to expand. It’s in the process of connecting to both Safaricom and Airtel Kenya and has had interest from organisations in DRC and Tanzania.
Digital Content Africa: Balancing Act’s web TV channel Smart Monkey TV has launched a new e-letter called Digital Content Africa. On a fortnightly basis, it will cover online film, music, publishing and services and applications. We have already produced 20 issues and these can be viewed on this link:
Essential reading for those in mobile VAS to anyone just interested in what African and relevant international content they can now get online. If you would like to subscribe, just send an email to email@example.com with Digital Content Africa in the title line. Some examples of past issues below:
Digital Content Africa Z19 – The Mobile Deal that is keeping Africans from having more music, film and TV on their mobiles
Digital Content Africa Z17 – South African entrepreneurs create Live AndroidTv using XBox Media Centre with device costing just over US$100
Digital Content Africa Z16 - MTN Play Côte d’Ivoire is looking for digital content that will play well on mobile phones
Digital Content Africa Z-13 - Ghanaian online platform Reel African announces the launch of first viewer votes feature film competition with cash prize
Videos interviews to watch:
Babatunde Olaifa on the biggest football website in Africa, Goal.com
John Davies, Intel on ways to connect the last 4 billion people unconnected globally with examples from Kenya, South Africa, India, Bangladesh and Colombia
Bastian Gotter of Lagos incubator Spark on providing services for Africans coming online
Fikayo Ogundipe, co-founder ToLet.com.ng on a Nigerian lettings site like no other
Videos interviews to watch:
Gillian Ezra, Simfy Africa on launching a music streaming service with MTN in South Africa
Jose Soares, Net 1 Mobile Solutions on the solar powered Wi-Fi lamp designed to change lives
Sascha Meinrath, X-Lab on using Mesh Wi-Fi to connect the unconnected in Somaliland and Tunisia
Andrea Bohnstedt on the challenges of SME investing and the African tech sector
Antos Stella, CCA on the impact of digital on the music business in Africa – The company MTN bought into
Brett Loubser on how WeChat Africa is both a radio station and a second screen
For breaking news, follow us on Twitter: @BalancingActAfr