A new SMS system enabling rural folks track and access funds

A new open source credit software called PaymentView is adding new meaning to mobile money and micro-credit system by enhancing communication hence enabling easy tracking of the money transactions.

The free application developed by Frontline SMS:Credit allows users to communicate with clients via the SMS through group messaging, auto-responses, and other notifications provided users have a computer and a 3G modem.

“The new system enables one to manage short-term credit, installment payment plans, or accounts receivable. Currently, PaymentView is configured to work with M-PESA in Kenya. It can be configured to work with any SMS or STK-based payment system with a USSD support in the offing,” Sharon Langevin, the Project Manager Frontline SMS;Credit, said.

The combined value of SMS and payments for interacting within organizations and with clients and customers comes up in all kinds of organizations, big and small.

“PaymentView, the plug-in that extends the FrontlineSMS platform to send, receive, and manage mobile payments, inherently connects payments and SMS by virtue of sitting next to an SMS messaging hub, so that you can do both of these things from a single, easy desktop setup,” she added.

Langevin told HumanIPO that by expanding the uses of mobile money in developing markets, FrontlineSMS:Credit helps to fulfill the promise of mobile money to provide the poor with new access to financial services and enable new business models that aid in development.

PaymentView is already being implemented, she says, enabling microfinance borrowers to repay loans via mobile phone to rural microfinance branches, expand the availability of an innovative family savings or pay salaries for labourers.

“PaymentView enables small MFIs to leverage mobile money to better serve their customers. It’s another great tool in the financial inclusion toolbox,” said Ben Lyon, co-founder KopoKopo.

Lyon believes the MFIs had been left behind by mobile money payments just like retailers and SME’s had been before he founded KopoKopo. The Silicon Valley entrepreneur is helping Kenyan SMEs integrate mobile money in their systems and making it viable for them.

The FrontlineSMS:Credit first piloted PaymentView in Freetown, Sierra Leone in 2010.

Mobile money in Kenya is not new and Kenyans are reportedly using mobile money transfers more than banks. By last year, Safaricom’s M-Pesa had close to 14 million active M-Pesa users. Statistics from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) indicate mobile money transactions added up to 364 million transactions between June 2010 and June 2011 with the total money transferred reaching around KSh919 billion.

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