African Micro-Banking: What the “Big” Companies Don’t Get

This most recent trip to Kenya has been enlightening in a number of ways. A common topic keeps raising it’s head in my conversations with technology guys here though. The conversations revolving around ecommerce, web application development and mobile applications all need a critical component for them to be really viable; that is a web and mobile based banking system. It was such a compelling thought that I put together a presentation on it, that I might post at a later date.

Africa: the need for micro-bankingRecently, one of the newspapers here reported that the average Kenyan keeps 2,500 shillings in the bank (approx $35.00). Many Kenyans don’t have a bank account at all. Even those with bank accounts have limited access to credit or debt tools.

So, the question is, “how does mass-usage of ecommerce take place when there is no means to pay?”

As the mobile telecoms and banks of East Africa try and develop platforms that allow people to tie into their particular system, they end up missing the big picture. It’s not about your particular bank or phone platform, it’s about people being able to trust and pay using an agnostic payment system. Meaning, the credit and payment system should interact with all banks and phones regardless of type.

Think about PayPal, it looks a lot like that. Though you can have it access your bank account, you don’t need to. Though you can use a Visa card to pay through and accept PayPal, you can also get credit through PayPal. You see, it’s many systems working either together or independently, depending on what you need from it.

The answer in Africa looks similar, but has some uniquely African twists. For example, fulfillment – actually being able to put more money into, or take money out of the system – would need to have the same types of partnerships that the telecoms have created with merchants around the country. This serves as a local conduit to any person’s account and it also works with what local people are accustomed to doing. There is no need for a bank building of any sort.

Imagine a web and mobile-based system that is not tied to any particular banking establishment.

The Long Tail
Micro-banking works on the same principle as companies like Google (Adwords advertising), Rhapsody (music) built their businesses upon. It’s called “the long tail” (now a book by the same name), and it means not worrying as much about those “big” spenders on the front of the distribution curve. Instead, focus on getting to everyone else that has “less than average” numbers, and making a small amount off of a much larger number. (see Wired example below)

The Long Tail

What would it take for someone to put something like this together? PayPal started with an initial outlay of $3 million. Once it showed success it quickly ramped up to much larger investment numbers ($23 million). It would probably take a similar amount to develop something like this for Africa (probably less, but I haven’t crunched the numbers). Just start in one country, prove that it works, and then scale up to a larger region.

As I mentioned to someone while in Kenya last week, it’s not as if there isn’t a banking mogul’s son who isn’t looking to try his own thing, or even an investor that would turn away a chance at millions.

AfriPay Another reader coined this idea as “AfriPay” – I agree, it’s a great working name (even though the domain is taken). Now, who are the takers? Speed counts here.

52 thoughts on “African Micro-Banking: What the “Big” Companies Don’t Get

  1. fola

    Interesting idea.

    The long tail concept is an exact image of the Base of the Pyramid (BOP) model. Access to banking services is not only low in Kenya; just about 40-45% of productive Nigerians access the services of banks. I feel that this is because of the way the mega banks operate- so any bank that can really serve this long tail will do very well- community banks that offer unique but basic services plus microfinance and credits. Theses institutions must be on ground before technology – what you are suggesting – could make an impact.

    Secondly, to focus on a continent-wide application maybe a recipe for failure-; starting local or regional and leaving room to expand will be my approach.

    Fola, I agree that the concept needs to be tested within a particular region first. Once a good system has been put together, it’s just a matter of scaling that to cover broader swaths of the continent – or other continents.

    The problem with community banks is that they are to small to really profit from the long tail. Their portion of the long tail is too small of a group. It only works if it’s on a grand enough scale that there is a massive amount of people within that long tail.

  2. anon

    i think the next big thing to fill this void is going to be prepaid credit cards – with ATM machines spreading all over its just a matter of time for this to happen in kenya – another factor that will driive this is security esp the danger of handle large sums of cash. like im told nowadays most employers require you to have a bank account in order to pay you. in south africa they have the concept of mzansi bank accounts – basically bank account on a card – alot of this is driven by the realization that gov’ts monetary policy only affects to a large extent money that’s in the banking system.

    Yes, I think that prepaid cards make a lot of sense. I’d like to see an organization step up that would talk to all banks with one type of card though. Of course your Visa and Mastercard does just that, however who in the long tail can get one? Those are credit cards too, what I think would work is a debit/credit card that works with all banks, but is not necessarily tied to any one bank.

  3. Mimmz

    What a fascinating idea! I think though anyone offering credit or any part of a credit tool needs to know they can trust a) the longevity of the country’s stable platform and b) the stability of the existing purchasing power. I guess at the bottom of these decisions is the need to tackle a sustainable improved economy.

    And of course banks in Africa needs stiff competition from the government in making loans available. The current problem, I feel, is that banks charge exorbitant fees and rates, shutting down the middle income person, who in reality is the person that needs the loan the most to create somewhat of an equilibrium in both the demand for money and the demand and supply of goods and services. I’m a believer in Keynesian theories and I therefore believe what Africa needs first is the government to intervene in its money sector, jump start its economies and then the banks/lending services can attain the ability to trust the provision of additional services as profitable ventures.

    Hey Mimmz. One of the things that sets this idea apart is that it is not tied to any particular government or standard bank/telco. I’m not the strongest believer in Keynsian economic theories, so we might have to agree to disagree on the idea of government stepping in. :)

    Actually, in one of my personally favorite posts, I speak to the fact that technology can be particularly useful in Africa. Why? Because, it allows individuals and companies to circumvent many of the government beaurcratic practices.

    However, you hit on something here that is incredibly important – Trust. Trust is the backbone that holds any web company together. Think of the big ones: eBay, Paypal, Google, Yahoo, Amazon, etc… You trust them in some way, and that’s why you are willing to use their services. The same thing applies here; you have to build a network of people who trust the system. You have to earn that too, it’s not given lightly.

  4. uaridi

    That is an interesting concept and I particulary like the bit about not concentrating on the small spenders. Considering the hoops banks make potential customers jump it is a wonder there are any account holders in Africa.

  5. anon

    mimz – government intervention in africa/kenya is the most scariest thing. i have no problem with gvt inetervention is the social sector for example welfare reforms – but not banking sector 45ysr of that should have taught you better.

    also to add to my post before jsut read this in kenya times

    http://www.timesnews.co.ke/18aug06/business/buns8.htm

    for anyone who wants to listen the debit card/prepaid debit business is going to be the next big thing africa and just like the cellphone is going to revolutionize africa.

    those pesa point and kenswitch guys are not putting up those ATM’s for nothing they are the harbinger of things to come. richard branson just into south africa with virgin cards.

    I agree.

  6. John Powers

    As a person who grew up pre-computer era, I’m always interested in how younger people like you, Hash, deal with great ideas. Okay, you are exceptional, but to a much greater extent people of your generation are willing to “open-source” ideas. Very exciting to old folks like me.

    Mimmz raises the important issue of trust. The very technologies which make possible an “agnostic payment system” also make possible reputation systems. For example Ebay has a system for ranking vendor reputation.

    You clearly know more than I. But from my perspective Mimmz has pointed to a significant obstacle for the creation of long-tail banking services, and so in the near-term I tend to agree with the observations made in the comments that pre-paid debit cards will take hold.

    Your essential insight that long tail payment services should not be about particular platforms is very smart. Phil Jones, one of my favorite bloggers, wrote a couple of posts recently on his blog Platform Wars wrote about TCP/IP and Money being rival platforms:

    “Instead, money and IP are rival protocols in rival networks which are means to the same end : that of articulating human labour to create more wealth for humanity.”

    http://platformwars.blogspot.com/2006/07/tcpip-vs-dollar.html

    http://platformwars.blogspot.com/2006/07/tcpip-vs-dollar-continued.html

    The problems of reputation to a large extent solve themselves in banking services for the rich, but are at the core of long-tail banking services. In the long tail there are plenty with good reputations simply needing other ways of measuring it than by counting up money.

    Finding ways to measure reputation at the long tail seems really important for unleashing the potential for creating wealth along the long tail. Zangu could help to create measures of individual reliability within networks of trust necessary for the kind of long tail payment system you propose.

    I always enjoy your thoughtful posts John. I commented earlier about trust in Mimmz post. It’s a VERY important point and it goes without saying that the idea lives and dies by that simple, yet intangible, perception.

    The idea of Zangu, or The Africa Network, is of creating a network of people that are tied together by their interactions online and on their mobile phones. So, in a way that does provide some type of base reputation system that could tie in well. However, the micro-banking idea came from discussions with guys who were trying to set up online marketplaces and who were trying to sell services (web applications) online. How could those types of things be paid for by your general African? They don’t have a credit card or a Paypal account.

    That reputation and trust go hand-in-hand is a given. One directly feeds the other. Do you trust the person or business that you’re going to transact with? Having a reputation system with feedback from other people goes a long way there. Do you trust the organization to handle your money and to keep out the scammers? The organization needs to prove it can be trusted – this doesn’t happen overnight.

    Phil Jones is a smart guy, thanks for making me aware of him. He has some good points on wealth and the separation of the idea that wealth is directly tied to money. The user-generated web has shown that wealth is not solely identified by cash/money – it also means time and attention. How does this tie in with the micro-banking idea? I would say that it comes into play when people start realizing that they can bank things besides money. Say, the trade of services between two different parties using the web network as it’s conduit. (more ideas on this, but I don’t want to go to far off topic)

  7. HASH

    Phew, looks like I hit a nerve, a good one though. I’m just going to respond within people’s comments since each deserves a response.

  8. dean

    hi all,

    nice article, forget about credit cards, look into future, few years from now…, wait I’ll give you a clue… you work it out … the answer is in your hands… yebo gogo :)

  9. Mimmz

    OK. It seems I need to clarify what I mean by governemnt intervention. I don’t need the government to interfere with the actual banks and how they work. Obviously, as anon points out, I’ve seen (and learnt) that that’s not the path that leads to success. However, I believe the government should be seriously, continually and perpetually involved in influencing the environment where it affects spending power. Equate this to the feds and interest rates here in the states. That kind of involvement is what I’m aiming at. Which translates to things like buying farm produce at higher than market rates and reselling it to consumers at market rates and subsidizing costs amongst other things – hey, it has to be rudimentary in Africa. Laws of supply and demand left to themselves have a tendancy to eliminate the middle class. Without which, forget this micro-banking idea in all its greatness, amongst other things.

    I recognize that in Africa, individual countries lack the autonomy to determine these measures and herein lies the root cause of all evils I believe. (Please take a moment to appreciate a very difficult, but well executed, attempt to not make my opinions of the IMF and world bank clear at this point). Basically, my point is, Africa needs autonomy first before that banking sector will flourish. There are too many cooks in Africa’s kitchen where money is concerned and that poses a problem.

    About the dark continent article, I consider myself an African idea (wo)man. Technology is my world yet I feel stranded because to implement my vision for Africa as I see it, would require a major grant from Bill Gates. And that still wouldn’t be sustainable, unless the purchasing power was improved permanently. So, yippeee, for the $100 computers, but I’m still not convinced it’s enough. Again, stranded by the inability to trust the economies in question.

    Great thoughts Mimmz – I appreciate the response. I agree, there still needs to be government, without government the market has the tendency towards monopolies and inequalities that make it impossible if you aren’t a first-mover or have enormous financial backing. And you’re right again in stating that without the government stabilizing a country ideas like micro-banking are difficult, if not impossible, to work.

    Now, on to your other point about the African need for autonomy. I too believe that the best thing for Africa is for Africans to solve African problems. There needs to be fewer outside influences, in politics especially. I’d like to hear more on why you don’t think individual countries in Africa can act of their own volition though. Do you think it’s because of IMF/World Bank policies tied to the loans they get?

    I guess I was thinking of a micro-banking system that isn’t reliant on any particular country and is able to act independently and move fluidly around or through troubled countries and regions. Sure, there are regulations that have to be followed, and governments do play a role, but some of their inherent backward policies can be circumvented.

    Good thoughts, thanks again! :)

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  11. John Powers

    You asked how Phil Jones’s comments about the IP/TCP vs. Money ties in with your micro-payment idea. The fact of the matter is that it might not, but at least I wanted to flesh out my thinking a little more with you.

    The real-life, real-time problem underlying your post is really important . You wrote: “However, the micro-banking idea came from discussions with guys who were trying to set up online marketplaces and who were trying to sell services (web applications) online. How could those types of things be paid for by your general African? They don’t have a credit card or a Paypal account.”

    As you point out Paypal seems to have a lot going for it, but you also point out that a similar system will require an African twist. When I started thinking about some of the obstacles involved, my head really spun. And I’m of the opinion that speed isn’t so big an issue here; that is,getting beaten to the punch, precisely because there are so many obstacles. I also tend to think that the universality you want in the payment system may not be so important, at least in the short term.

    Prepaid credit cards are very big in Europe. And in general the best research on digital cash seems to be out of Europe. The Italian Postal Service prepaid cards are an interesting model for what might happen in some African countries. You might be interested in these links: http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/content/jun2006/gb20060621_871907.htm?campaign_id=rss_daily

    http://www.poste.it/en/bancoposta/carte/postepay.shtml

    http://www.paymentsnews.com/2006/08/23_billion_prep.html

    Stored value cards obviously aren’t limited to cards which “are accepted anywhere Visa cards are.” A familiar example are the cards Lowes sends out whenever they want to drive their traffic. Of course many Africans will be familiar with phone cards, and it seems that if banks get competition for the payment cards, I won’t be surprised that the mobile phone companies provide it. But the infrastructure really isn’t developed yet in Africa to make doing ebusiness of the kind you are proposing really widely available. It’s not only that people don’t have credit cards, it’s also that vendors would have some up front costs tying into the system; costs which will be hard to swing for many.

    I suspect that PayPal is already looking for ways to expand into Africa, and further suspect that they haven’t so far because there are so many knotty problems to work out. The only African Country that PayPal currently does business in is South Africa, and there only to send payments to individuals form other countries.

    There are three big considerations for systems like Afri-Pay: fraud, failure of technology, and privacy which includes the tracking people.

    Networked information systems have great potential to help Africa leap-frog with new ways of doing business. The infra-structure which we take for granted here in the USA where there are machines that connect into the Visa system will take some time to develop in Africa, but it surely will. Among the African twists that need to be taken into account is that access to the networks may be disrupted more frequently in African countries. It would be a big deal here in the USA to go to the bank and not be able to withdraw money because of network problems, but it’s common in African countries for customers to have that experience.

    In the era of asymmetric threats, one of the key threats is systems disruptions. We here in the USA aren’t sufficiently alert to these sorts of problems. Systems need to be robust, and often that often means including redundancy in the system. Africans are ahead of the game in planning in this regard, not because of terrorist threat, but inadequate infrastructure. For example, computers can play a big role in health-care delivery, but the necessity of paper records is relatively more important in the African health care. The point is that failure of technology is important to any electronic money system, and especially important to consider in the African context. That’s probably a good thing in that it encourages thinking of developing systems robust enough to withstand systems disruptions.

    I met Phil Jones http://blahsploitation.blogspot.com/ online at a discussion group he moderates at tribe.net http://alt-money.tribe.net/ Nothing much is going on there right now, but it’s a place to discuss alternative currencies among other things.

    I joined up at the Alt Money tribe because I correspond with a young Ugandan who’s worked mighty hard to develop and run a community-based organization there. One book I sent my friend Nathan was “Time Dollars.” http://www.timebanks.org/ http://www.timekeeper.org/info.html The idea went over like a lead balloon with Nathan. However the idea of sweat-equity as is involved with Habitat Humanity housing was something he readily understood and thought a good idea.

    At the Alt Money tribe a young Nigerian started a thread on a currency he called the “Mono.” Basically the interest was academic, and in particular he was interested in making a inflation-resistant currency. However in that thread http://alt-money.tribe.net/thread/17f1145e-42c5-4fcd-af21-9287ac864e22 Phil made a suggestion:

    “This is an online digital currency. If he gets the dynamics right, one advantage it may have over dollars is that it’s easier to make online payments. Right now, to make an online payment I still need a bank account and membership of the credit-card network, and as John points out below, maybe in parts of Africa that’s still pretty expensive. Let’s suppose that Mono is represented by certain stores or cybercafes, who’ll do the dollar-to-mono (or national currency to mono) conversion in the premises. Someone can take cash in to the store, buy monos, and mail them to someone else. Without having any sort of conventional bank account at all.”

    My mind boggles when I think what governments in the region might think of this. Complementary currencies might figure into the mix of African ecommerce, but there are clearly lots of legal problems. Time Dollars aren’t taxed in the USA because they aren’t legally enforceable contracts. Trust is what makes Time Dollar networks work, and that may not be sufficient in an ecommerce context. But I still think there’s a very interesting kernel of an idea in Phil’s comment. Of course it’s quite different from your universal Afri-Pay idea. Adding a paper layer to an electronic data system complicates things and adds costs. But it also improves functioning during periods of temporary network downtime. I’m of the opinion that at least in the short run smaller network plans may be more feasible to jump start e-commerce in Africa.

    Seun ultimately concluded that introducing an alternative currency presented more trouble than it solved. He’s probably right, nevertheless the potential for alternative currencies in Africa still seem very interesting to me. Again, what any of this has to do with your concern for a payment system for buyers and sellers using Zangu is probably as clear as mud. My point is that keeping track of other money-like credits aren’t such a big deal in the computer age and there may be some real advantages for doing so.

    BillMonk is a very interesting Web site https://www.billmonk.com/ right now they aren’t supporting any African currencies–I don’t think. At first glance this may seem very far off topic. I can see how, just as it is, it could be helpful, or a Web site like it, for managing petty cash in an organization and perhaps even for keeping track of a Time Dollar network. The main reason I bring up BillMonk is that the developers anticipate that “social money” is going to be very big. They hope to develop a business providing service to this emerging market. Now I don’t have a clue what they have in mind as the possibilities. But at least others much more entrepreneurial than I see anticipate mashups of IP/TCP networks in the near future. You indicate you’ve been thinking along the same lines, but don’t want to get off topic. I think such ideas might well be thrown into the mix.

  12. HASH

    John, you’re right, this is a mind-boggling type of problem. I’ve always been of the mind that the hardest problems to solve are the most lucrative because so many people would rather go where the “easy” money is. I’m also of the opinion that many hard problems actually have elegant and simple answers to them. It’s the finding of that answer that is the hard work.

    The prepaid cards that are such a big hit in Europe are a logical component of a system like Afripay. A tangible way to charge up your account at an ATM or other outlet, as well as a way to spend money, makes a lot of sense. If only because we’re so wired into the concept of tangible things = value.

    I don’t think cards are a necessity, because you could still transact through a mobile or web-based system – but, I’m guessing it would create a few more ways for business to be done. I like the concept, and think it should definitely be a part of any Afripay-like business model.

    The truth is that there is a lot of inherent problems with the transaction of business in Africa, infratstructure or governmental. However, there is a base platform – again, the mobile phone – which is what I’ve always thought of as the main component in an idea like Afripay.

    I also believe that as scary as alternative currencies are (and I’m not sure if this is necessarily – though it might develop into something different depending upon use), they work because the system is not set up correctly. If goods/services could be transacted and traded easily, there would be no need for them. However, when the countries currency or government get in the way of doing business, it’s only natural for people to find something that works.

    I’ve seen this very thing at work in Sudan. The government was so messed up, and the monetary system so fixed, that you couldn’t survive if you didn’t use the black market. That’s an extreme, but what a mobile/web payment system does is similar – it provides a platform for efficencies in transacting business that are not easy to do through the current system.

    So, what does it all boil down to at the end?

    It boils down to whether or not you can create a more efficient model for people in the long-tail. It’s not that you can’t make money in the “head” of the tail, but the concept here is to tap into an untouched market. Prepaid cards might very well be the best first step, but I think it would make sense to start building the foundations of a mobile/web based system as well.

    (p.s. I love what BillMonk is doing as well. Those are some very bright guys. At this point it’s very Americentric, but it has the potential to be great.)

  13. John Powers

    It’s embarrassing to see my long-winded comments. Thanks for being patient with me.

    Your background has really given you some good knowledge of the many complexities Africans face. What’s really cool is that with your knowledge and perspectives about ICT you are really finding ways to use information and communication technologies to find solutions.

    It’s so much more difficult dealing with money in African countries than most people here can imagine. For example: Bloggers trying to get their BlogAds money end up with a huge chuck taken out for transaction fees. People in border regions of one country often have to use the currency of an adjacent country because that’s what traders will accept. And because the borders are such a crazy quilt compared to where people of the same ethic groups live, in some countries the bulk of the economic activity is actually “informal.”

    One thing I’m sure you’ve got right is how important it is to find ways for African programmers and developers to succeed. You have a network with AfroM, Thakadu, JRE, and others. I hope that you never underestimate how important your connections with Africans working on ICT solutions are!

    Bridging the digital divide will empower people. I know there are always downsides to technologies, but the prospect of Africans being empowered has mostly upsides. In such an inter-connected world it’s hard to think: Oh that will help them. instead the success of one can be of benefit to many. Solving the problems involved with African networks contributes to making the entire network stronger. In that sense people outside Afirca have a real vested interest in finding soultions.

  14. Robert Bruce

    OK. I have a sense of something big in the offing. I think the time has come to bounce the concept off a couple of VCs to see how the moneylenders feel about helping create this.

    What say you?

  15. HASH

    @ AfroM. Exactly. That’s what the mobile phones did in Kenya. The Longtail has been at work for a while now, it’s just got a name now.

    @ Robert. I’d be happy to talk to people about this in depth a little more. Of course, it needs some more research and planning in exactly how to implement. I think a rough roadmap is there though.

  16. Robert Bruce

    I saw Hash mention prepaid cards. I do hope the reference is not to the industry I have daily interaction with – the call shop guys?

    In my industry, telcoms, these are the sharks!

    As for currencies, my experience has left me to believe that citizens enjoy and trust only their own currency. Over time, and with experience, the online users can get to the point where dealing in other currencies becames as easy as firing up their browser to transact a payment.

    But for the immediate future, in Africa, I think local currency is essential to gain that trust that is so essential for a previously technologically deprived client.

    Now, as I am now way a tekkie, I will bail out of this conversation BUT I am onboard and will assist in those areas where I can. Like getting some VCs to have tea and a chat!

  17. John Powers

    I can’t seem to get this post out of my mind! The importance of finding ways for African programmers and developers to get monetary rewards for their work is so essential. Clearly something like Afri-Pay is a big piece of the puzzle. But there’s an immediate need.

    It’s a little off-topic, but I was pursuing Lagbaja’s Web site, they’re a Nigerian Musical group http://www.lagbaja.com/index.htm It’s a great Web site, but the ecommerce page is clunky. They use GAL http://www.galintas.com/ I’m not familiar with GAL, so I’m not knocking them. But it seems to me that services like GAL need some development here in the USA and Europe. Players on this side of the ocean can play an important role in helping to jump-start African ecommerce.

    Again taking things even more off topic, Emeka Okafor’s recent post “Mirage at the Bottom of the Pyramid” http://africaunchained.blogspot.com/2006/08/mirage-at-bottom-of-pyramid.html
    makes the important case for viewing the long tail as producers and not primarily consumers.

    Afri-pay is a key part of allowing producers to receive a better share of their labor. Afri-pay is enormously important. I think that people outside of Africa play a role in its creation, along the lines of what GAL provides. Although Eric Kamau’s on the right track as far as home-grown enterprises will play. In essence his site True African could provide middle man services for small operators to get their payments.

    Africans like you living in the USA and Europe play a key role in making this vision of African entrepreneurs succeed. So while it’s very important to make progress on the continental front, it’s also important to develop improved interfaces for African products sold abroad–to make markets outside of Africa for African products. Getting the money back into the hands of producers–like Lagbaja–is a key part of it. My hunch is that solutions in this area will be important for the emergence of a continent wide Afri-Pay solution.

  18. AfroM

    @anon – very interesting, apt and informative. It would totally make sense, since as it is, someone can ‘sambaza’ or send mobile phone credits to another number person’s phone by following several prompts, it wouldnt be too difficult for safaricom to implement the AfriPay idea, so this leads us back to Hash’s sense of urgency :)

  19. HASH

    @AfroM and Anon –
    Great video find, by the way! Everyone’s thinking about this now.

    It only works for Safaricom if they remember to make sure that it’s not specific to their system. It has to work with other mobile phone providers as well.

  20. Robert Bruce

    OK. Have been busy contacting my network here in UK. A lot of interest and intrigue BUT crucially no uptake due to misaligned perceptions about the risk of investing in Africa.

    This has led me to seeking out African investors. Private or corporate, I don’t care. Top of the list is the S African investment sector. Will work my way through the banks as well.

    Will go knock on doors and feedback if one opens.

  21. Robert Bruce

    Should we begin a viral campaign? Lots of talk on blogs will generate intrigue and begin convesrations that might get picked up by the right person who can link into investment? I created a mini gif AriPay badge (see my blog) that links back to this post by Erik.

    Help yourself to copies.

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  23. free

    Brilliant. I think that this is a great idea and that why I love that we are in this emerging “web 2.o” world are whatever you want to call it. I think you bring up a good point of not building the banking foundation and instead partnering with the way that they do business or “localizing” the business model. It is very similar how cell phines were given to villagers in India so that they could verify the going price of their goods at the market vs, relying on a middle man broker or not getting fair trade prices. Afripay would be similar in that it may leap some of “basics” to arrive inline with the rest of the world.

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  25. Robert Bruce

    alexcia says:

    [quote]
    “So once you have proof that i, Alexcia, or representative of address XYZ received the product and assuming it is something that i actually want, getting me to pay is easy.

    All you to do is to tell me to pay up or return the product!!!the same goes for services, pay up or we cancell.”[end quote]

    I assume you agree that payment card details are inputted and verified prior to electronic deliver recipt which on verification of delivery can then and only then trigger the connection to the bank to extract funds from the buyers account?

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  27. Max The IT pro

    Eric,
    Yet another excellent blog post. Damn, it’s hard as hell keeping up with you.
    I see links to your stuff EVERYWHERE throughout Cyber Space. That’s a very good thing though.
    With regards to AfriPay, I think it’s a great concept. I really, really beilieve that things are gonna change really fast here due to some recent events. CelTel just launched a 3 country 1 number network for Tanzania, Uganda, and KENYA meaning that you don’t have to switch SIM cards any more. This has huge implications in more ways than one. And I’m told that Internet access fees are gonna DROP by a whopping 70% (KDN’s Kai Wulff said this) once KDN’s partner connects that optical fibre to Mombassa from India.

    So stay tuned! Just hold on to your hats.

  28. 69//

    Max:

    You said:
    “And I’m told that Internet access fees are gonna DROP by a whopping 70% (KDN’s Kai Wulff said this) once KDN’s partner connects that optical fibre to Mombassa from India.” Do you have a link?

    All I can find is this http://www.eastandard.net/hm_news/news.php?articleid=1143954896, for a cable by KDN to link up to Yemen and something that I had completly missed:

    “…Flag Telecom is in the process of completing the Falcon system that runs through the Gulf and it will be up and running in early 2007. Connection to Mombasa will be completed by September next year…” yeah!

    Thanks for the heads up.

  29. Josiah Mugambi

    Hi

    The East African Standard of today (Tuesday Oct 31 2006) has a big story on Safaricom launching a micro payment solution: m-pay in about 5 months. They have been doing a pilot test.

    A bit of Micro-Banking..

  30. HASH

    Hey Josiah, thanks for the update. I’ll be interested to see if it is multi-platform or not, and if it allows you to interface with banks. If not, then it’s not the right application yet.

  31. Mitch

    Tangent – I am just starting to learn. Is there a reasonable way to hook into making loans as an individual through a small organization, and see who it is going to & what they are doing. How do I make these type of investments. Is there a clearing house?

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  33. Sadat Edriss Bwambale

    Dear Sir or Madam,
    I am an woodcarver artist living and working in captal city of Uganda called Kampala.My artwork is exibited on gallery-world.com,but they only accept paypal payment and I have got a customer already.Please assist me what to do when I stay in Uganda.
    Thanks.
    Sadat Edriss Bwambale

  34. Damien

    After getting through all of the above, it comes down to how to answer the question from Sadat Bwambale. In Australia http://www.aboriginalaustralia.com/ have set up a system for remote indigenous artists to advertsie their wares on line using digital photos, and the site takes care of advertising, selling and getting the money back to the producers – but even in outback Australia there are reliable phones, internet, a reputable banking sector (well, almost)…which seems to be the breakdown points in Africa. Still can’t get over the idea that the cell phone economy is a huge winner…but I only got onto this idea a couple of hours ago. A peaceful Christmas to all…and keep thinking…quickly.

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