For quite some time; I did not have a bank account and I was okay with that. I was using mobile money services for all my monetary transactions because with mobile money services; you get the cash anytime, anywhere and the service is quite convenient to me; I loved it! I can say, this is quite a kind of tech I appreciate and it certainly changes the lives of lots of people here in Tanzania; and the rest of Africa.
I remember when I was in secondary school how difficult it was to get the money sent from my parents. The money took at least two days to arrive at my school then my name was called out loud at the assembly for me to go and collect the cash, it was a public “show”. Thanks to the Tech nowadays, I can send or receive money from different places within the country and even abroad in a blink of an eye- I mean I can send and receive money from my sister in Oman in matter of seconds! Looking back at such times and the Tech we have nowadays; I am extremely overwhelmed!
I know there is a lot I can write but I believe you get an idea and now this Tech is getting more interesting!! Some service provider came up with the version of a Mobile App for mobile money services and I remember installing and uninstalling it occasionally due to the fact that, if there was no internet, I was unable to access the app. Funny enough; this particular company is also an “ISP” (Internet Service Provider) so it got me wondering-if the same company offers internet and this Mobile App; why can’t they allow free internet for their customers who will use the App? But in my mind I believed that they were trying to take the mobile money service further and maybe later they would consider that (offering free internet), which they did! So, again I installed the App and believe me, it’s so cool using this App than using the old style. Sending money to someone in your contact list is so fast, easy and convenient as compared to the old style. With this particular App, one can also pay his/her bills (water, electricity, TV subscription etc) and this saves time and cost of one going to pay the bills physically; how awesome can it get? So personally, I enjoy the service and now you can also use the app even if you don’t have internet bundle which is the coolest thing ever!
That being said; I then felt the need to open a bank account again because the previous one had some technical issues. Well, I was then overwhelmed with the process of getting a new bank account nowadays. It’s totally different as compared to the process I went through 7 years ago. The procedure nowadays is very fast and it only took me a day to collect my ATM card unlike back in 2009 where the procedure involved a lot of steps; back and forth form filling etc and as if that wasn’t enough, I had to wait for more than two weeks to collect my ATM card! But that’s not the point-my point is; how dazed I am for this particular bank to have the power to be able to deploy the mobile phones App to enable its customers to easily open a bank account. The old system required the customer to bring all the necessary documents needed to open an account and a passport size picture or sometimes the bank use cameras attached to the computer. Bank staffs enter customer’s details in the system and later scan all the documents of a particular customer which requires heavy duty scanner machines.
However, with the new approach there is no need to buy heavy duty scanner machines or asking customers to bring along their passport size picture or even attach cameras on computers. The bank created a Mobile App which enables bank staffs to take pictures of the needed documents and customer’s photo directly using mobile phone and send all the details to the banking system, where the details will be saved there. In my opinion; I think this approach has foreseen the misery one gets when opening a bank account and other lots of issues and I consider it the best approach because it is cost-effective for the customer in terms of taking passport size picture especially to more common Malls where many banks exist. Customers also save the time they would have to wait for service and also time to wait for an ATM. As for the bank, the approach is also cost-effective because it reduces the number of people working on same issue and cost of procuring and maintaining scanners and cameras, so at the end of the day- IT’S A WIN-WIN situation for both parties!
Another Tech that inspires me is the parking collection system at Iringa Municipality. Back in November 2016 I went to Iringa – Tanzania with Index Labs team. And while we were at Iringa town; in some areas we were charged for a parking fee. For the first time we were surprised when a lady came and asked us to pay for the parking fee while holding a mobile phone on one hand and a small wireless printer on the other. The lady entered our vehicle registration details to the mobile phone and we were all curious as to what would happen next……then in a matter of seconds our receipt was printed from the small wireless printer that the lady was holding. We were all surprised as to how such a complex task could be accomplished using a mobile phone in a few clicks! So it got me thinking; as a Developer, how I can use Tech to solve the day to day problems surrounding our communities.
All in all, I am writing this article to share my experience and try to figure out what kind of Tech our community needs to solve our problems. And I am using this article to congratulate all developers in Tanzania for their efforts in solving problems that changes our lives. I believe a lot can be done and these are a few kind of Techs that I came across and was inspired on how conveniently they work, how they save time, money and how easy they are to use for everyone because Technology is for everyone not for some group of people.
Until next time; thank you so much for taking your time reading this article, don’t forget to leave a Like and comment in the section below.