KAMPALA —Organisers of the 40Days40FinTechs initiative have welcomed the new Software Development Kits (SDKs) by the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA), saying this will go a long way in providing interoperable solutions.
The SDKs, developed by GSMA’s Inclusive Tech Lab, are toolkits that software developers use to build applications using prebuilt components instead of having to build each of those components themselves.
An SDK may contain libraries, documentation, code samples and software tools developers require to build their solutions.
HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya says this development comes at the right time when the #40days40fintechs initiative is ongoing, with a primary aim of championing digital innovation and interoperable instant and inclusive payment systems (IIPS) in Africa.
Now in its third edition, the #40days40fintechs initiative is an annual 40-day event that profiles emerging FinTechs with unique stories.
It provides a setting for the various players and stakeholders involved in digital and financial technology to exhibit their products and services and also share their ideas on how more people, especially those un-served and underserved by the present financial systems with emphasis on interoperability.
“It is exciting to see great efforts by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in supporting initiatives like the Mojaloop Foundation’s Open source, which is a blueprint of the Level One Project, initiatives like the HiPipo’s Include Everyone Program, and 40 Days 40 FinTechs that are supporting FinTechs and DFSPs to access information about new and emerging tools and technologies such as the Tool Kit GSMA has created,” Kawooya said.
Adding: “We have witnessed works by Mojaloop and Google to build APIs and Adoption Toolkits such as Payment Initiation Service Provider (PISP), open banking third-party payment initiation (3PPI) and all these innovations are a faster way to build a sound, secure, competitive, and universal financial system that is essential for sustainable and inclusive growth of everyone.”
A statement by GSMA notes that the SDKs will especially help in advancing the Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for Mobile Money service providers.
When using these SDKs, it is possible to handle all the use cases of the Mobile Money API in a quick and simple way. Some of the use cases are Merchant Payments, Disbursements, International Transfers, P2P Transfers, Recurring Payments, Account Linking, Bill Payments and Agent Services (including Cash-In and Cash-Out).
“In way, to create our SDKs, we collected intelligence on market trends and commonly used technologies in the mobile money industry. Insights were gained by researching the API platforms of providers in the market as well as qualitative interviews with leading industry players. This intelligence helped us understand the market needs concerning different technologies, particularly the main programming languages that are commonly used for backend and frontend development,” reads a statement by GSMA.
All code was built in alignment with mobile money providers’ business needs, making it easier to customise the code.
And the first company to applaud this new development is MTN Africa.
“I am very excited about the release of GSMA Mobile Money API SDKs given the kind of innovation possibilities these tools accelerate. The SDKs enable quicker time to value where the core API capabilities are provided like a reusable utility for any developer, hence leaving the developer to focus more time on their innovation competitive advantage,” said John Mark Ssebunnya , the General Manager – Technology Strategy and Architecture MTN Group Fintech.
Ssebunnya added that the fact that the SDKs are available in several frontend and backend programming languages is a bonus to the Fintech Ecosystem.
“The SDKs being open source is another key industry enabling trait that will let any Fintech expand on their capabilities while contributing to their robust and secure evolution through gradual community improvement. In the same spirit, the several scenarios made available by the GSMA Inclusive Tech Lab will help us to tailor our own MTN MoMo SDKs and take our API to another level of usability,” he added.
Mobile money continues to be a vital driver of financial inclusion especially in Africa. The increase of mobile money solutions and the reach of their agent networks has helped to spread the access to money transactions over different places and services.
In Uganda alone, an estimated 30 million people use Mobile Money, with transactions volumes amounting to over 8bn dollars by 2020.
In the most recent State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money, close to 80% of mobile money providers have most of their revenues driven by customer fees.
Therefore, many of them are now seeking to strengthen their value proposition with different financial services. This would connect consumers and businesses with a wide range of third-party services to meet their evolving needs, from e-commerce, credit, savings, and insurance, to enterprise solutions for micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).
Experts therefore look at the development of more SDKs as a step in the right direction, helping to reach different platforms and services and demanding a rapid software development to attend market needs.
They further argue that SDKs can make the job of building innovative solutions much simpler for developers since they are designed to allow developers to rapidly integrate the different mobile money functionalities and services into new applications, making the development cycle shorter.
This is possible because SDKs are built as a layer around APIs, abstracting many configurations that need to be done for the use of the API.
From the perspective of mobile money providers, SDKs can enhance their platform offering, and support the creation of an active developer community consuming their APIs, as developers can save time integrating vital API services in a quick and reliable fashion. It helps to enhance provider’s API product proposition, enables the developer community, drives traction in the market, and maximises the provider’s brand credibility.
As for all technologies developed by the Inclusive Tech Lab, the codes created for the SDKs are an open-source initiative, and freely available to the mobile money community.