Open source key to mobile money interoperability in Africa
The lack of interoperability between products and services across regions in Africa poses a threat to the growth of mobile money on the continent. Industry experts believe open source software could help.
According to Paula Hunter, Executive Director of digital payment foundation Mojaloop, open source code has the potential to improve the use of mobile money without considering borders and different vendors.
This will open up space for innovation and rapid development of solutions, she added.
Speaking at the Seamless East Africa 2020 conference recently Hunter said: “The benefit of having this inclusive and open source model is that we can build this technology and everyone benefits. So, this collaborative in development is something that everyone can participate in and take advantage of each new feature that comes along.”
According to Hunter the key advantage of the open source platform is that the software is not proprietary and locked to one vendor, , adding that while software can be customised to suit the various needs of regions, products become universal.
“If there is a security issue of a bug that needs fixing we have hundreds of developers around the globe that can jump on it and address it rapidly,” Hunter added.
Backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and first launched in 2017 to develop mobile money interoperability solutions for Africa, Mojaloop is currently working with the Tanzanian government through its Central Bank to create a mobile payments platform that will bring all mobile money players together.
Mojaloop is also consulting in West Africa to create a common platform for mobile money, creating an interoperability function.
Kosta Peric, Deputy Director for the Financial Services for the Poor initiative, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said that more regions need to start to think about how to make mobile money more universal and tear down the vendor silos.
“We need to accelerate the movement of mobile money expansion if we want in this decade to essentially eradicate the unbanked concept,” said Peric.