US-Uganda Partnership Brings Mobile Money Aggregator To 27 African Countries

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Written by Dana Sanchez

This is the first of a two-part series. Watch AFKInsider for an exclusive interview with Ugandan Luke Kyohere, CEO of Beyonic.

Mobile Accord, the parent company of U.S. market research firm GeoPoll, has partnered with Ugandan mobile money aggregator Beyonic to bring its unifying mobile payment platform to 27 African countries.

The mobile money aggregator allows businesses to make mobile payments to multiple carriers through a single online system. If all goes according to plan, it will be the largest mobile money aggregator in Africa.

Until now, companies using mobile money for expenses had to connect individually to every mobile money system in every country they work in, according to Roxana Elliott, spokeswoman for Mobile Accord.

Cash payments in emerging markets come with security and logistical challenges, Elliot told AFKInsider. Beyonic’s system allows companies to make mobile payments to employees, vendors and aid beneficiaries.

The partnership will benefit from Mobile Accord’s connectivity with carriers throughout emerging markets, and will leverage these relationships to bring Beyonic’s platform  to 27 countries in Africa, Elliot said.

Beyonic currently operates in Uganda and Kenya.

Native Ugandan Luke Kyohere, CEO of Beyonic, founded the company in Uganda. Beyonic is now a privately owned, venture-backed corporation with headquarters in Washington, D.C. and wholly owned subsidiaries in Uganda and Kenya.

How did Mobile Accord make those all-important carrier connections in Africa?

Partly through its core service, Denver-based company GeoPoll, which does market research in Africa. GeoPoll figured out the best way to do surveys in hard-to-reach African populations was not with the traditional pen and paper, but with text messages and SMS.

GeoPoll launched the first-ever daily TV ratings in five African markets during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. As African football fans sat around watching football, their preferences and habits were measured by GeoPoll via text-message surveys so they could later be sold things by big corporations.

GeoPoll’s customers include the U.N. World Food Program, USAID, World Bank, African Development Bank, soft drink and consumer electronics firms, and other market research firms, according to an earlier AFKInsider report.

GeoPoll has worked closely with African telecommunications providers and claims to have 100 million people — and their mobile phone numbers — in its database.

The partnership with Mobile Accord will make Beyonic the largest mobile money aggregator in Africa, Elliot said.

Mobile Accord describes itself as a mobile platform company with expertise in building scalable mobile solutions for emerging markets. It claims to have long-standing connections with mobile operators in over 40 countries.

Beyonic says it will leverage Mobile Accord’s expertise in building mobile solutions and relationships with leading mobile carriers. The online platform enables businesses to quickly deploy, track and manage two-way mobile money payments over multiple mobile carriers.

Mobile money allows people in emerging markets to pay or receive money through even the most basic mobile phones, Elliot said.

For businesses working in emerging markets, mobile payments allow fast, secure money transfers and reduce loss associated with cash payments. Until now through, it was a time-consuming process for organizations operating in multiple countries.

Beyonic opens up mobile money to businesses that previously lacked the resources to connect to every carrier in a country, Kyohere said. Companies can make and track payments across any network with little setup required.

Beyonic is already integrated with MTN and Airtel in Uganda and Safaricom’s M-Pesa in Kenya, and has been used by organizations including Save the Children, Educate! and Innovations for Poverty Action to reduce the need for cash payments and increase operational efficiency.

Mobile Accord says it has relationships with 78 mobile carriers in 44 countries in Africa and Asia and will use its connectivity to expand Beyonic’s reach. Together, Mobile Accord and Beyonic hope to implement a road map for expansion, starting with 10 markets: Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and Zambia.

Watch AFKInsider for an exclusive interview with Ugandan Luke Kyohere, CEO of Beyonic.