SmartMoney serves rural African communities with a mobile-based savings and payment service that is safer, cheaper and more convenient than conventional mobile money services, banks or cash.
In 2012, SmartMoney launched in Tanzania with an exclusive focus on agricultural value chain payments. However, the team quickly recognized that agriculture companies can only introduce improved payment solutions if they not only benefit the agriculture company but, more importantly, provide direct benefit to the farmers themselves.
Farmers always have a choice of which agriculture company or informal trader they will sell their crops to and therefore any viable payment solution must be demanded by the farmers themselves and not imposed on them by any single agriculture company. If a digital payment solution does not provide farmers direct benefits they will simply sell their crops for cash to a competitor or informal trader – this discovery led our team to understand from the farmers themselves what financial services solutions they needed most.
To our surprise, and contrary to the hype surrounding conventional mobile money transfer services, we discovered that farmers are generally uninterested in using mobile phones for long-distance money transfer. Instead, farmers and other rural stakeholders demand secure, affordable and convenient solutions for saving their hard earned money plus solutions for reducing the costs to make low value payments to local merchants and institutions in their surrounding village community. Neither of these requirements are met by conventional mobile money services that charge prohibitively high fees for withdrawals and low value local payments.
In response to this discovery, SmartMoney pioneered several important mobile finance innovations that have expanded the company’s service offering from a basic payment solution for agriculture companies into a fully inclusive financial ecosystem for rural communities that we proudly call “E-Village.”
To learn more about how savings economically empowers rural people see these studies from financial inclusion thought leaders.