In the last five years, technology has changed the financial services landscape in Africa. For example, when M-PESA launched in 2007, it gave everyone with a mobile phone the power to send and receive money at the touch of a button. Today, M-PESA serves 30 million users who use the system for all sorts of transactions ranging from loan repayments to food purchases. In 2016 alone, M-PESA processed around 6 billion transactions. Beyond M-PESA, mobile phone ownership of both feature and smartphones has risen exponentially, and this has led to a change in customer expectations. Customers now expect to be able to interact with financial organisations online or through their mobile phones. Online registrations, balance enquiries mobile loan applications and repaying using mobile money are now considered normal.
Financial organizations are therefore increasingly looking at ways to respond to these expectations in order to retain their competitive edge. In Kenya for example, the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) (the umbrella body of the banking industry), has kicked-off a phased rollout of a digital payments platform called Pesalink that is expected to transform the way consumers interact with their banks. This platform will for the first time enable customers to make payments between banks in real-time, around the clock, without having to go through intermediaries.
What PesaLink demonstrates is that KBA and the member banks are aware of their duty to serve customers, innovate and create value for our economy.KBA Vice Chairman John Gachora
However, while mainstream banks with large budgets can easily adopt the most recent technology across the industry, MFIs who actually serve the people at the “bottom of the pyramid” do not have the budget needed to do so. This is where Musoni Services come in. At Musoni Services, our goal is to help financial organisations climb up the technology ladder without spending a fortune. While the Musoni System already includes a lot of advanced functionality as standard, it’s also incredibly easy for organisations to launch their own services and delivery channels in order to respond to customer expectations.
Just recently, Musoni Kenya demonstrated this by building their own USSD solution designed to offer more transparency and functionality to their clients. Their new USSD menu enables clients to check their account balances and download a mini-statement in seconds.
In less than two months after the USSD menu was integrated, over 9,000 clients have registered for the service and carried out more than 25,580 transactions, all of which registered a 100% success rate. The clients are very satisfied with the solution and this is made evident by the growing uptake numbers. Clients are now able to manage their savings and loan payments better because they have the power of information in the palm of their hands. The benefits of this solution extend to loan officers as well. Loan officers now have more time to bring on board new customers, time they would otherwise have spent giving existing customers basic savings and loans information.
Speaking about the project, Juliet Ongwae, Chief Innovation Officer at Musoni Kenya, said: “the huge uptake of the USSD application shows that our customers want the convenience of accessing and managing their accounts through the mobile phone. Building onto this application will provide us access to previously unreachable customers and also enable our existing customers to transact more frequently. This therefore calls for us to leverage on this application to improve our service levels, customer value proposition and product innovation.”
Moving forward, Musoni Kenya is looking to enable account transfers and loan applications (which will be approved and disbursed instantly) through the menu as well.
Furthermore, this year Musoni Services will launch a client facing app to offer the same functionality through smartphones. The app will enable end clients to check their balances, transfer funds between their accounts and make loan applications straight from their mobile phones. This will mean that clients will no longer have to travel to their nearest branch to carry out financial transactions, saving them both time and money. Most importantly, as the majority of the unbanked live in remote rural areas, this app will expand financial inclusion to places where banks previously could not afford to operate.
Speaking about the USSD implementation, Musoni’s CEO, Cameron Goldie-Scot said: “the Musoni System has been built to make it as easy as possible for organisations to rapidly launch new products, services and delivery channels. We’re excited to see Musoni Kenya taking advantage of this to increase transparency for their clients!”
You can read the full implementation report here.