Alexander Oswald: Why Kenyans Do It Better (Full Transcript)

Let’s assume you have one of the smartest agencies in Austria, and they really do an exciting job, and together with the CRM program, it works great. Twenty five percent of all people download your app, so every fourth one, and trust me, that would be a really good value. One percent of all users in Austria.

Now they have downloaded it, but sorry, bad news, according to a latest study, 28% of people who downloaded an app don’t even open it once. So at the moment, we are at 0.72% of all users in Austria. I think you got my point a little bit.

So, to put it in a nutshell, what was surprising to me, when I was in Kenya, and again, 10 years in this industry, and if you ask me or anybody else in this industry, what do you think the hottest topic in the next three years will be? Mobile payment.

Everybody is working on that. We will dominate everything, and everybody is going to pay through their phones. Now I’ve been to Kenya. 40 million people are there. Many people would consider it a developing country.

Remember, 40 million people are living there. 14 million people in Kenya have a mobile payment solution.

Now, who’s now the stupid one? They don’t need to have everything. The most simple, “stupid” feature phone is enough. They do it based on text messages. Simple text messages.

The great thing is, because it’s a developing country, many people don’t have bank accounts; they don’t need a bank account for their mobile payment solution. Very smart approach.

So how do they get people money?

They send it via a text message to another person, and believe me, in places where you would never imagine that something like this could be, you find this, “The M-Pesa agent,” “Pesa” is Swahili, and it means simply “money.” So it’s a combination of text messages and a kind of Western Union outlets. And that enables people in the middle of nowhere to send money to other people, or get money.

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Cool! I live in the top 10 richest countries in the world, I cannot pay except for parking. But it’s a fair point.

After this safari, we went to the hotel and then we learned that most people never leave the hotel. They spend their entire time at the pool, because outside of the hotel are these very bad people called “beach boys” that are just trying to sell you something.

We got to know some of them, especially one guy in the red shirt, Jubo. Don’t think they can run around wherever they want. They need to get a license and it is restricted to a certain area in front of a specific hotel. Otherwise, there’ll be a chaos on the beach, so it is really structured.

I spoke to this guy. They don’t bite. They actually are very nice. He spent six years in school, and we had the whole conversation in German, because he said he loves to talk to tourists. Impressive. And he told me also about it.

From him I learned, and I read it later, that only 700,000 people in Kenya have a health insurance, as we know it. Which means 39 million don’t have health insurance, which is a big problem.

When we spoke about it, he said like, “Yeah, they have it,” because he can always save money, and send it to a virtual account; and that virtual account can be used for everybody. So his sister can use it, his little sister, his mom can use it, his grandpa.

He can go to a hospital, which is of course subsidized, but he gets medical treatment there. When his little sister needs something for school, he can order it. He orders it in shops which don’t even have electricity, but the shop owners, with my orders, can set up virtual stores, where other people can order stuff and tell they will pick it up at half past five, when they are going home.

It’s obvious, because nobody wants to queue up, so you just order, you get a bag, you pay, or you might have already paid through M-Pesa. That works fine. I’m queuing up every time; and I hate it. That you have an example, there are these three outstanding women, who created over a weekend – a weekend – for a startup competition, a solution called “M-Farm,” which allows again, based on mobile phones, that farmers learn at which market their crops are needed and which price they will get.

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If they want to sell to a bigger company, they can do group buying or group selling based on mobile phones. I cannot do group buying at the moment. But that’s a fair point. And of course, in these countries, they suffer. So Kilimo Salama, for example, puts up this.

Once a farmer signs up through a mobile phone, for an insurance, for his crops. Now again, this is the middle of nowhere, there is no electricity, but it doesn’t matter, because it’s solar powered. The company comes, puts up this solar-powered station which measures the soil, the weather, the rain, and everything. And if it’s too dry, guess what? He gets automatic payment on his mobile phone from this insurance company.

Now, I have never received an automatic payment from any insurance company, but that’s a different one.

Now, what I’m trying to tell you is that my impression is, after ten years in this industry, that we just have one problem in our top ten richest country in the world, which is: we have too many resources. The scarcity of the resources there brings the best out of people. To me this is, in a certain way, I admire them for what they are doing, but on the other side, I am a little bit scared, because, believe it or not, in five years, it could be possible that we need to go to Kenya, and ask them for consultation on mobile solutions. And that is something, I think, we should consider our approach today.

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