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MTN MoMo Hackathon Winners Develop a System to Ease Payment of Casual Workers via Mobile Phones

Two university students Ronald Akuayo and Ivan Kisa have developed a web-based application that facilitates single payment of casual workers via their mobile phones.

The e-wage payment system is a web-based application that facilitates single payment of casual workers via their mobile phones.

Developed by Ronald Akuayo, a third-year student of Information Technology and Computing at Kyambogo University, and Ivan Kisa, a second-year student at the Nakawa-based Makerere University Business School (MUBS), the system works in such a way that a company interested to use e-wage payment simply signs up, and creates an account and payment sheet for the casual workers. It is at this point that the payment sheet will automatically connect to the MTN MoMo API, allowing the money to be sent to the payment sheet for payment.

Akuayo says the app development stems from his experience as a casual worker in which they lined up to receive payments on a daily basis consuming most of their time.

“So, one day I reach home and decide that since I am an IT student, I should try to come up with an app that could enable employers to pay their casual workers so easily without the hustle of workers lining up,” he said. “Indeed, I was able to develop a system that can process the list but the biggest challenge was coming up with a feature that could send the money.”

“It is at this point that I started searching online with the hope to identify any available open APIs that I can integrate into my application, and that is how I landed on the MTN MoMo API,” he said.

While the app worked with the MTN MoMo API, Akuayo says he didn’t know what to do with it and therefore had to abandon it for some time, only to return to it and make improvements as a school project. But before he could close the school project, an opportunity emerged for him and his co-developer to submit the app idea to the MTN MoMo Hackathon challenge.

The app emerged as the overall winner of the hackathon receiving a reward of USD$5,000 (approx. UGX18.7 million) that the developers would use to grow, and implement the idea.

“We didn’t know that we shall come this far and become winners but here we are,” Akuayo said at the time of winning. Adding that the next step following the MTM MoMo reward is to register the app as a business and seek client specifically factories and hotels to be enrolled in the platform since they are the one who uses most of the casual work yet faces the challenges of processing payments.

“We are grateful for the MTM MoMo for this reward and the opportunity to use their API to ensure that the app is commercialized,” he added.

The MTN MoMo API Hackathon launched in 2018 enables developers in Uganda to create an app that can process financial transactions, with added capabilities that go beyond processing payments to accelerate financial inclusion and digitize payments.

The initiative is also open to developers based in other African countries including Rwanda, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, eSwatini, Congo Brazzaville, Guinea Conakry, Zambia, and Benin with the aim of offering financial and transactional applications innovations using the MTN mobile money (MoMo) API platform.

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