Bringing Economic Opportunity to the Un-banked: FrontlineSMS:Credit

For citizens of the developed world, the process of transferring, saving and managing money is as simple as visiting one of many bank branches near us or by using a debit card. Making purchases, obtaining loans and establishing credit enable us to purchase a home, start a business or send funds to relatives. In Kenya and many other developing countries, this process is much more difficult.

Without the baseline infrastructure that many of us take for granted, such as an extensive road and highway system or postal service, shipping goods or cash is a risky process. FrontlineSMS:Credit developed our software, PaymentView, for exactly this audience. Leveraging mobile payment systems and existing banking software, we are bringing financial services, including savings, credit, insurance and payroll, to those that traditional banking systems do not reach. Our mission is to effect social change and facilitate transactions in a way that previously wasn’t possible.

When we received funding from the Vodafone Americas Foundation in 2009, we were able to quickly move from concept to a real working prototype. Our staff has grown from an original three members to 15, which has given us a global presence. We entered the mobile money management market in Kenya, where M-Pesa allows person-to-person payments via mobile, but services for businesses remain rare. By 2012, we launched Payment View and our initial SME users in Kenya were reporting 80% efficiency savings.

Within just two years of our latest software being available in Kenya, our open source platform has grown solid via continual development and user feedback. And we’re proud to announce that ever since 2011, the service has been 100% made in Kenya with our development team based in Nairobi. From the beginning, our priority has been to deliver a product that allows the user to dictate how it progresses to better serve businesses of all sizes and we continue to look to the users to show us the best way to move forward.

Today, we are looking to new markets where mobile money is existent but where businesses have not been able to take advantage of it due to a lack of mobile money management tools. By doing this we will quickly expand our reach to the unbanked across the world. Through the DFID Global Poverty Action Fund Project, Frontline SMS: Credit is exploring an opportunity to serve rural small and medium enterprises by empowering them to send, receive, track and manage bulk  mobile money transactions via M-Pesa. In late 2014 we will roll out with our second version of PaymentView, Payments, which will offer even more options and will be directly integrated into FrontlineSMS. As we expand our reach into new geographies and serve thousands more small businesses and their clients, we view Vodafone as a key catalyst that enabled our transition from an NGO to a real business with international impact.