Bringing the local mobile industry together…sharing, educating, building
Our last MoMo event for the year held at the iHub was very successful. We had over 100 people attending and the quality of the content was amazing. Nokia was well represented by Agatha Gikunda, Safaricom was represented by Nzioka Waita and we had guest appearances from the Deputy Vice Chancellor of JKUAT.
Pictures from the MoMo meet up that happened on the 15th of November at the iHub.
John Wesonga, kicking of the meeting
Kahenya & Limo talking about overlap.co.ke- An app that allows motorists to report errant drivers
Deputy Vice Chancellor of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture & Technology speaking on the importance of engaging the main actors when developing an app that is specific to their sector e.g. If you are developing an app to assist farmers, talk to them and understand their challenges.
The Mobile Monday-Kenya team from left John Wesonga (MoMoKE),Nokia-Agatha Gikunda , James Muendo (MoMoKE) AkiraChix- Jamila Abbas,Virtual City-John Waibochi and Safaricom- Nzioka Waita
Big thank you to Virtual City, who continue to sponsor us and help us grow this community. Also we want to thank Nokia for being part of this event.
Life is mobile and with life comes living, which requires one to part with cash or some other form of value in exchange for what they want. With the introduction of mobile money in many African markets and the success that is Mpesa, focus is shifting to mobile payments.
While some may argue that it is the technology that is holding back adoption of mobile payments on a mass scale, I believe it is the lack of reasonable business models that ensure all players in the value chain are adequately compensated. The tug of war that played out for us after the rollout of Mpesa, goes to show that while mobile payments is a lucrative market, cross industry synergies must be forged to ensure seamless service delivery and most importantly stability of the payment ecosystem.
The mobile payments arena is attracting many startups seeking to become the defacto connector in what could soon become a billion shilling industry as demand for payment convenience and online purchasing rises in the region. Some of the payment services currently in the market include; PesaPal, Commerce 360, Moca, JamboPay and Ipay. All of these services build on top of popular mobile money services Mpesa, Zap and Yu cash with extensions that support credit card payment to target the growing number of consumers who carry plastic.
An analysis of the current services looking to grow mindshare reveals that the ultimate business model for mobile payments at least on a local level is yet to be discovered. And perhaps that model doesn’t exist.
The concept of mobile commerce and e-commerce lends itself to different types of inventory being available for purchase. Notwithstanding different users want to be engaged in different ways and they want different things. The experience and billing for a virtual good purchased on a social network cannot be the same as that of an online store selling dresses.
The key lies in creating business models that suit the different consumer experiences. Models that adapt to the preferred method of payment as well as type of good or service being purchased. One underlying issue that must also be tackled head on is the revenue structures. Currently mobile money, which is the backbone of current mobile payment solutions, is the domain of mobile network operators and the tariffs for these services were not developed with m-commerce in mind.
The mobile network operators would do well for the market and themselves, if they crafted a proposition to add value to the mobile payments ecosystem.
This move in my opinion is as simple as adopting a different set of tariffs for mobile payments and setting standards for interoperability that will drive innovation by the upstarts seeking to deliver last mile payment solutions. This will lead to an increase in the volume of M and E commerce with all players being adequately compensated for their value addition.
Mbugua Njihia is CEO of Symbiotic Media – a mobile tech firm based in Nairobi
Twitter – @mbuguanjihia
This article was published on cgap.org and highlights the innovative mobile money solutions coming out of Kenya. As a disclaimer I’m personally involved in one such project Mamakiba.
You can read the original article here
Kenya grabs a lot of attention with mobile money, but is all the innovation happening at the top of the food chain? We don’t think so. In fact, working with FSD Kenya and some great ex-Unitus folks, we’ve found a veritable hotbed of Kenyan entrepreneurs spinning out one exciting idea after another. The next round of mobile money innovation could easily come from the little guys, if only they could gain traction with the right financing and other support. Unfortunately, the entrepreneurs tell us that’s not there in Kenya. There seems to be a clear market failure with willing, able and attractive entrepreneurs finding a wilderness empty of the kind of angel and early VC financing, mentoring plus nuts and bolts advice they need to soar.
I recently spent an intense week in Nairobi scoping out the landscape. We found out 2 things:
1. There are a ton of small entrepreneurs working in mobile money and they are arriving from 4 vastly different directions.
2. But as exciting as their ideas are, nearly all these entrepreneurs are somewhere in the “valley of death”, past funding from friends and family, short of commercial investment.
How can we shift this equation?
Did you miss the mobile mega trends 2010 report? Well here it is courtesy of http://www.visionmobile.com. The report
explores the many facets of change in the mobile industry. It’s our third and biggest Megatrends research we‘ve published to date featuring 64 juicy slides with detailed analysis on the future of mobile.
This year we’ve covered 8 core themes:
- Vertical integration: a one-way street or a quick detour?
- The evolution of revenue models
- App Stores: the long-tail future
- Web platforms: why the future of software development is still elusive.
- Open is the new closed; how companies are using open source to further their own agendas
- Recommendations everywhere: raising the bar for mobile services
- OEM monetisation: products, services or distribution?
- Operator futures: bit-pipes or supermarkets?
Researched, authored and published by VisionMobile
Read the report here
This is an article from Audience Escapes written by Dinfin Mulupi about how m-pesa is being used to provide insurance to farmers in Kenya.
An innovative insurance program is coaxing Kenya’s farmers to invest in quality seeds and fertilizer. Relying on the popular mobile money transfer service, Mpesa, it promises to process any claims due to crop loss quickly and safely.
In the coming months, Kenya is bracing for a spate of severely dry weather caused by the La Nina effect. While the government prepares for the resulting food shortage, Kenyan farmers are facing the possibility of financial loss as their crops wither on the vine.
For some farmers, a new insurance program is coming to the rescue and encouraging higher-yielding farming practices in the process. Kilimo Salama (Swahili for “safe agriculture”) guarantees farmers a return on their investments in the event of harsh weather conditions that may affect the production of their crop. With its reliance on automated weather data to support farmers’ claims and the use of a mobile money transfer service to make payments, Kilimo Salama is overcoming farmers’ resistance to purchasing crop insurance.
Kenya’s food insecurity is sometimes blamed in part on the reluctance of farmers to use high-yield farm inputs (such as seed and fertilizer). According to statistics, only half of Kenyan farmers invest in improved seeds and nutrition for their crops because they fear losing money in the event of harsh weather conditions. Such weather is not uncommon, as with the drought that occurred in the last quarter of 2009. Yet the result of farmers’ failure to invest in higher-quality inputs is that they use old seeds which produce lower yields.
Gaining Farmers’ Trust
Kilimo Salama is changing perceptions about insurance by eliminating what used to be a lengthy and subjective claims process. To determine who gets payments, the program uses data from automated solar-powered weather stations positioned across the country. No longer must farmers file claims and argue with an agent about whether or not their crop failed because of the weather. Instead, once these weather stations record low or excess rainfalls, claim payments are automatically triggered.
The program distributes insurance payments to farmers using MPesa, a mobile money transfer service operated by Safaricom. As most farmers have access to mobile phones on which to receive the payments, this is an attractive feature. Instead of having to open a bank account or travel to a bank branch to cash a check, the payment is instantly transferred.
Kilimo Salama is considered “microinsurance” and is available to farmers who plant on as little as one acre. It was developed by the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture in partnership with UAP Insurance and Safaricom. The insurance is made affordable for farmers, according to the Syngenta Foundation’s website, because “Kilimo Salama’s agribusiness partners pay the other half of the premium.”
How it works
To purchase the insurance, farmers pay a 5 percent premium on top of the price of seeds, fertilizer and other farm inputs. A group of 40 registered and trained rural retailers, known as agro-dealers, now sell the insurance. They each have a camera phone to scan a special bar code on the product at the time of purchase. This registers the insurance policy with UAP Insurance through Safaricom’s mobile data network. Immediately afterward, an SMS is sent to the farmer’s mobile phone confirming the insurance policy.
In September, a group of more than 100 farmers in Embu became the first group to receive insurance payouts through the program. Low levels of rain at the Siakago Rural Technology School had triggered the payments. The largest payout was of 2,500 shillings (equal to approximately US$30). This is equivalent to the cost of 12 kilos of high-yielding maize seed that can be used to plant one acre.
One of the beneficiaries, Jennifer Mbiro, was satisfied with the insurance program. She said: “I am happy that I have received a payout. But since I did not really trust insurance, I only insured my fertilizer and not the seed. Therefore my payout is small this time. This season I’ve insured my seeds, fertilizers as well as some chemicals that I’m trying for the first time. I now know that it is worth insuring all my inputs.”
The payments were not made to all policyholders in the town. They were made only to those who cultivated in the area where the weather station documented below-average rain totals. According to Syngenta’s Executive Director Marco Ferroni, the program is designed to have enough weather stations so that variations in rainfall patterns can be noted over small areas.
“The fact that not all farmers received payments shows that the system can distinguish who suffered damage and who did not,” said Ferroni. “This is how the system is supposed to work, to compensate farmers for any harvests that fall below what they would expect. In this case, the projected losses, and thus the payouts, were fairly small. In seasons with less rain, the payout could be far greater.”
According to James Wambugu, Executive Director of UAP Insurance Kenya, the product was designed to meet the farmers’ needs. Discussions with farmers are currently ongoing to help in the development of products and services that will shield farmers and their harvests from risk.
“We believe Kilimo Salama can revolutionize insurance and make it accessible to farmers,” he said.
Kilimo Salama was rolled out early this year after the success of a pilot project conducted in Laikipia County in 2009. It is now being offered in Bungoma, Busia, Eldoret, Embu, Nanyuki, Oyugis, and Homa Bay. Next year, the program will be extended to other parts of the country with the target of reaching 50,000 farmers by 2012.
Official Kilimo Salama website: http://kilimosalama.wordpress.com/about/
|November 15, 2010|
It’s that time again!!
Mobile Monday Meet up will be happening at the iHub on November 15th starting at 6pm-7:30pm. Our hosts will be Nokia who will be talking about “Being part of a sustainable and scalable developers ecosystem with Nokia”
Other presenters will be:
Excellent opportunity to network with other mobile developers,entrepreneurs and enthusiasts.
If you’ve registered before for other events please go ahead and register again http://momoke.eventbrite.com/
The MXit API
So today I attended the launch of the MXit API. I was pretty excited about this one from the hype surrounding it mainly because there was a lot of talk of MXit finally “opening up” and creating an open API for anyone to use. Turns out that this is not really the case at all.
Firstly, as the launch event started, the audience was asked not to tweet anything without running it by the MXit folks first (you know in case they have to deal with more bad press), at which point I should have left, but didn’t.
The “API” as it turns out, is really an SDK. A Microsoft .Net C# SDK at that. There is no API (well not counting the standard XMPP “API” which we have been using for years anyway) at all, but a Windows DLL that contains an interface to the MXit currency functions (they call it Moola) and some basic messaging options. They have also introduced a simple markup language that allows some simple graphical elements to be cached client side for performance. The markup would be really useful IMO, but that seems to be secondary to MXit themselves.
Essentially the DLL is only useful to Microsoft Visual Studio coders as it uses the Net.TCP function to do the bidirectional API calls. That basically means that you cannot even hack this thing onto Mono and still use a Free Software stack to run your apps. There is a WCF service that runs on top of the API to handle the requests to handle the HTTP requests from client apps.
This could all have been achieved in a much easier way by sticking to pure old XMPP plus a basic API to handle some non-standard XMPP stanzas for the transactions etc. I do not know why they approached it in this way at all.
Basically the MXit API is Yet Another Walled Garden (YAWG) that I do not need to think about again.
For those that are interested in doing something with the “API” the approach would be:
1. They are very interested in games, so make a simple text based multiplayer game.
2. Get in real early. I suspect that the apps will quickly become saturated and lose novelty fast, so start coding immediately if you think that you may want to make money from this thing
3. Be aware that your revenue stream is based on MXit Moola, which means a Premium Rated SMS service via MXit. That means that for every Rand you charge your clients, you will get 50c
One vector that I can think of for one person to make an absolute fortune from this would be to buy the infrastructure and software and create an Open API around it for 3rd party devs to use. You will essentially become the middle middleman and create value for everyone in the world that does NOT want to fiddle with Windows DLL’s and such. You could then charge a small transaction fee on that service.
Overall, I was underwhelmed, but lunch was good, so thanks to MXit for that! We also got a goody bag(let) full of stickers and a cap, so I am sure my kids will have fun with those.
Paul Scott can be reached through his blog at http://www.paulscott.za.net or through twitter @paulscott56.