Mototaxis, ambassadors of mobile payment in Benin

  • December 14, 2017

  • Cotonou, BENIN

UNCDF-MM4P and MTN Benin testing a new type of payment for mototaxis.

Cotonou, BENIN- Over 250,000 moto taxi drivers “Zemidjans” or “Zem” are circulating in Benin. Collectively, they represent a sizeable contribution in Benin’s economy: one million people depend on the income generated by the Zem activities and two million Beninese are regular patrons of their services. However, as most of the Zems do not have bank accounts, their transactions are conducted largely informally, in cash. This represents an opportunity for the digital financial services sector to offer this group of users’ financial services that could benefit their lives.

The MM4P program in Benin is currently assisting the mobile network operator, MTN Benin on a merchant payment initiative aimed at enabling customers to pay their mototaxi fares using mobile money.

Co - create solutions with mototaxis

Launched in July 2017, the first phase of the project focused on the design on the mobile payment solution. With the support of design firm, Innate Motion and consultancy firm, PHB Development, MM4P and MTN adopted a “Human Centric Design” (HCD) approach to understand the typical Zems journey including their wants, needs and aspirations when it came to financial services. This approach helped uncover insights a classical market study might have overlooked.

Subsequently, we explored mobile payments from different angles: from the point of view of the mototaxis drivers, their suppliers, MTN teams and their affiliated communication agencies. In small groups, we developed different scenarios keeping mototaxis drivers at the center of the discussion. The idea was to enables customers to pay their fares with mobile money, and simultaneously enable the Zemidjans to use part of the money collected to make payments using the same mobile money platform. In contrast to standard design processes, the scenarios focused on the life of Zemidjans and not on the financial product itself.

We asked the Zemidjan whether the scenarios presented matched their real-life experiences? What improvements could be made? What changes were needed? Their answers helped us rewrite scenarios so that they became Zem’s stories, stories they want to live or experience and in which mobile payment may play a role. Utilizing this co-creation approach, we were able prioritize the mix of value propositions not only for the Zem, but also for their customers to use mobile money payments. With the HCD approach, we not only tested innovative solutions but we validated them with the primary stakeholder, the Zem. The active participation of various MTN teams (Communication, Marketing, Technical, etc.) throughout the process facilitated the choice of payment solutions that were acceptable to all.

The Zem, to promote the adoption of mobile payment

By deciding with MTN to explore the world of Zemidjans via an approach centered on users, MM4P put the customer at the heart of the digital financial services ecosystem. Experience has shown that the adoption of these services depends, to a large extent, on whether they resonate with the customers and truly meet their needs. As such, the needs and constraints of customer should always be factored into the products and services design process.

We chose the Zem because they are powerful vectors of information or even of behavioral transformation. They can position themselves as ambassadors to impact the use of digital financial services in Benin and to influence the populations.

The adventure with the Zemidjans continues. But we are already seeing signs that the HCD approach an excellent tool to convey and leverage the benefits that digital finance can have. It is our belief that HCD can help leverage on all innovative products for which increased adoption and usage are proving to be difficult.

We are in the process of selecting a representative sample of these moto taxi drivers for the implementation of a pilot in the next phase. In a future blog, we will share some of the initial results obtained, as well as the challenges and/or new ideas discovered.