Just imagine you are at the office and in need of a large sum of money and around your area there is no any Mobile Money Agents what do you do? Meet Wakala Search an app for mobile money services where mobile money users won’t struggle searching around for agents who are ready to provide the services they need. The app enables mobile money users and mobile money bankers to search for nearby agents digitally.
In an Interview with Media Convergency the co-founder of Wakala Search Mary Marealle Rweyemamu told the story of how the idea came about, how Wakala Search operates, their targeted customers and what they look forward in achieving in the near future. Wakala Search was established in 2017 with a total of four co-founders Mary Rweyemamu, George Marealle, Diana Marealle and Eddy Nchwembu, they are located at Millennium Towers first floor Makumbusho, Dar es salaam.
The Inspiration behind
Mary says, “I am a person who likes to see things move efficiently while saving time, hence challenges such as where to deposit or withdraw cash that shouldn’t be an obstacle with the existence of the internet and everything being at the tip of your fingers is how we came up with Wakala search.”
She adds, “We later came up with an idea to have a geo locater, where one goes in the app and searchers for a mobile money agent that can carter for his or her needs, without the need of physically going to meet or find these agents.”
What Wakala Search does is creating a communication link between the mobile money agents and mobile money users.
How the Service Works
With Wakala Search there are two sides that we look into; one being how the mobile service operates for the client and the other being how the search for the Wakala can effectively work. For a person in need of the mobile money services, what he or she needs to do is download the app, register, choose your mobile operator and what you want to do with that operation, what services you want to pay for then make the payments or withdraw the money you need. When it comes to the Wakala Search Mary says, “We sort out the Wakalas or the Wakalas come to us, we verify their business license and they provide to us the business owners national ID card, that information stays in our database incase when anything happens then afterwards we provide them with a code where they can register themselves and pin their location.”
Mary speaks of the targeted customers in their business and the means used to reach them, “I would say anyone who is already financially included in the mobile money platform or is looking to be financially included in the mobile money platform is our target customer, the ways we use to reach our customers it is through advertising through the already existing social media platforms and the Google ads, giving awareness through the word of mouth.”
In the near future Wakala Search looks forward to having a marketing team that would be responsible for promoting their business it can be through the billboards ads, reaching out to local media be it TV or Radio.
The Eco-System Positioning
So far Wakala Search services is the only know innovative product of it’s kind and most significantly has positioned itself in a way that all fintech technological solutions can use it to it’s maximum advantage. Fintech solutions from power centers such as all mobile companies, banking systems and other related entities can use Wakala Search. Another aspect is the geo locater that helps its users to identify the location of the nearest Wakala based on where the consumer of such service is located.
The Pros of Wakala Search App
- The First is Convenience, it saves time for both agent and user, fast service delivery from knowing exactly when and where to get mobile money service at any given time or area. Agent provides exact service available only.
- Second is Promoting of financial Inclusion, due to easy accessibility the user shall use electronic money to purchase goods and services in stores, payment of bills such as water bills, electricity (LUKU) bills, buying airtime, internet bundles, payment of government taxes etc.
- Third is the Increase of Agent Commissions, spillover from increased transactions from Wakala Search clients
- Fourth is presence of Centralized Agent Report, there is a digital report from all MNOs transactions that enables to know overall commission.
- Fifth, the Security that exists mobile money users are free to walk cashless with assurance that they can make transactions anywhere, also the app can trace activities done between the mobile money service provider and the consumer of such service in case of fraud.
Wakala Search marks getting the voice of approval from TCRA, BOT and being officially registered as an accomplishment in their journey, another milestone was participating in capacity building programs organized by Financial Sector Deepening Trust(FSDT), and taking part in start-up accelerator competitions such as the Vodacom accelerator program where 500 start-ups were competing for seed funds and Wakala Search got to be amongst the top 10 and lastly is having more than a 1000 downloads in less than a year.
Mary says, “I am happy to say that Wakala Search is available not only in Dar es Salaam, but also in other region such as Arusha, Kilimanjaro and Morogoro.”
The Covid-19 Impact
“Wakala Search has been impacted by the pandemic us in both ways because we have had to self-fund our business which is challenging, also movements have been limited due to the pandemic so this affected our advocacy and awareness initiatives; on the flipside, there have been some positive gains as since clients preferred our services because it provided the solutions while supporting less movement.” Says Mary Marealle.
“Just dare because failing is inevitable, mistakes happen and we shouldn’t lean on the ‘what ifs’ rather be brave and keep pushing forward.” Mary Says
Wakala Search looks forward to the day that a single Mobile Money Integration platform is launched; this new platform will have mechanisms which allow the merging all mobile money services into a single platform. The results of which is that any person who needs to make payment, deposit or withdraw cash can simply use their phones and their needs are met without physically visiting a bank or other mobile money agents. Mary gives a note of appreciation to the whole team of Wakala Search, her husband and father who has been her mentor throughout her career journey and also to the regulators who have been more accepting and understanding particularly BOT and TCRA. Lastly Mary conveys her appreciation to Media Convergency Company Limited that has provided a platform that not only showcases technological innovations but also gives opportunity for featured businesses to share lessons learned while also providing them visibility which can potentially open doors to future partnerships and investment opportunities.
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