Yo! Payments: Making mobile money transfer work for businesses

Many new ideas are coming in every week via the VC4Africa website. On a regular basis the VC4Africa team places a new venture in the spotlights. Let’s meet Ugandan entrepreneur Gerald Begumisa, founder of Yo! Uganda Limited.

Which problem are you solving with Yo! Payments?

“We are aiming at making mobile money convenient for internal day-to-day use by businesses and not-for-profits. Most mobile money services launched by mobile operators are specifically designed to meet the personal needs of their subscribers, the most popular of which is person-to-person money transfers.

For an organization to conveniently use mobile money as a medium of exchange, certain concerns need to be clearly addressed such as security, widespread availability and ease of integration into existing systems.

Yo! Payments aims to give organizations a platform with multiple security features, including those we expect from bank accounts such as signatory structures and audit trails. We offer a central location from where to make and receive payments regardless of the mobile money provider and we deliver options for tight integration with existing operations via a flexible API.”

Does this mean that users of Airtel money, M-sente, MTN mobile money and MPesa can transfer money to each other via Yo! Payments?

“Yes, but this will be available when we expand to connect to other mobile money providers. We are currently only connected to one provider: MTN MobileMoney.”

Tell us more about your background?

“I am the managing director and founder of Yo! Uganda Limited and I also double as the CTO. My formal education is in electrical engineering. I completed my undergraduate studies in 2006 and founded ‘Yo!’ in the same year. Prior to that I have worked with OrecX and Computer Frontiers International as a software consultant and senior software engineer respectively. At Yo! We currently have a finance director, four software engineers, two support engineers, a business development manager and a general administrator.

Yo! Uganda Limited has a rich business background in the area of mobile value added services, and extensive experience in developing the software platforms for these services. Some of our software products include: YBS – A multipurpose telecom billing platform and INTELLIVR – A voice messaging and interactive voice response platform. We also offer hosted services such as: Two-way SMS gateway service, bulk voice and SMS messaging and mobile-powered surveys.

What is the business model behind Yo! Payments?

“Our focus is to make the service as affordable as possible to enable widespread adoption. Currently, we only charge a transaction fee of 1.5%.  This fee applies to the amounts you receive in your Yo! Payments account from a mobile money user who is paying for your services, as well as amounts you transfer out of your Yo! Payments account to mobile money users. In Yo! Payments terminology, the action of transferring funds from your account to a mobile money user is a ‘withdrawal’. Currently we offer up to two free withdrawals per day.”

What are your biggest challenges?

“Signing new mobile money operators onto the platform is the biggest challenge. This requires dedicated resources to arrange and execute negotiations of terms with the mobile money operators in different countries. We also need to put partnerships in place with local entities to provide direct support for Yo! Payments customers in their country.  The other challenge is finding resources to put in place meaningful marketing campaigns in the countries where we are is active.”

What are you looking for at VC4Africa?

“We are looking for potential funding partners to expand the service more rapidly. We have already talked to some people interested in investing. They opted to invest in a specific business model that makes use of the service as a way of evaluating its potential while at the same time making a profit.”

How can VC4A members contact you?

“We can be contacted via my VC4Africa profile, the Yo! Payments website and our corporate website.”