Monday, January 17, 2011

Truly Innovative

Last week Mobile Transactions Zambia announced a partnership with the MasterCard Foundation and Microfinance Opportunities to explore how financial education training can increase uptake of mobile-based financial services while helping tens of thousands better manage their money.

After thorough market research, Mobile Transactions (MT) will test a strategy to increase usage of its consumer products through financial education. Taking learnings from prototype testing, MT will launch a pilot financial education program that will empower consumers through financial education, improve consumer product delivery and connect more consumers to MT products.

This is Mobile Transactions taking the leading-edge approach. There are three reasons why MT will continue to innovate and win in the consumer space;

Size – Mobile Transactions, compared to its telecom and banking competitors, are much smaller and more nimble. We have no layers of bureaucracy to cut through to get things done. Our development staff skype with our people on the ground, feeding back directly on products.

Speed – Mobile Transactions is faster. We do not wait for ‘Corporate’ to make decisions (which may not meet the needs of the market in Zambia.) We do not fight through layers of approval. We can develop a product quickly without queue-ing behind five other country offices.

People – Mobile Transactions staff are different. We don’t wear suits and ties. We don’t drive fancy cars. Managers have lived in the village and understand our customers better. We are passionate about connecting the unbanked to financial services and driven to succeed.

As we look forward to 2011, the consumer team is excited about our partnership with MasterCard and Microfinance Opportunities. It is the next step in the continual innovation of Mobile Transactions’ consumer offerings.

Dave Vosburg

Manager, Consumer Channels

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Agent Growth

My name is Graham Lettner. I manage the Mobile Transactions (MTZ) Agent network in Zambia.

This blog post has just one point: our Agent network has grown so much since a year ago that it’s near unrecognizable—and the growth is only going to speed up.

The first photo here is where we were at a year ago: Monze, Southern Province, signing up a few Dunavant cotton farmers for MTZ on-phone accounts. It took an hour of presenting, another hour of convincing, and two more hours to open all of the 15 accounts.

Less than a year later, based on changes to our payment model for farmers and the hardwork of a start-up in a fight for our life, we paid literally thousands of auto-registered farmers in Eastern Province in the space of weeks.

When we first started, every employee with a motor vehicle drove up and down Zambia cajoling, coaxing, and prevailing upon mom-and-pop shop o

wners to become Agents on our network. Heck, we gave out phones for free so they could transact and loaned out millions of kwacha for working floats. We didn’t see many of those phones or much of that money ever again—but it’s what was needed to get early traction.

This second photo shows how different things are today. Golden Kamasumba, an early Agent of ours in Mansa, Luapula Province has not only bought space in a new complex in town to have a second Agent location, but on his own initiative he painted his existing shop in our company’s colours. He’s one of our early Agents ready to expand on his own of many of our early Agents ready to expand on his own now that we've fully proven our value proposition.

Last thing: Thomas Friedman wrote about our company in the New York Times the other week. Okay, so it wasn't our company exactly, but a similar start-up in India getting the same kind of traction with mom-and-pop agents across the country. Really, the only difference is that he spent two weeks researching in India instead of Zambia.

Our business is hot, red hot. We’ve already got traction and now we’re picking up speed.