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Zimbabwe: My applications wish list

Surge-Article-BannerTomorrow applications developers battle it out at the TechZim / ZOL Surge and start-up challenge. If I were to have my way and incarnate a stanza of magic code to generate the most useful applications for the moment, I would fulfil the wish list below.

  1. Ecocash App – I have said this and I will say it again. Ecocash needs a mobile app. Ecocash must hold the next mini Tech Surge to get developers working on an app for them. Sooner or later they will anyway. What features will it have? How about one touch funds send and cashout, one touch bill payment, one touch tollgate payment, one touch DStv payment, one touch kombi payment, agent locator (GPS),agent liquidity/risk indicator. How about partitioning the wallet into portfolios and adding several savings accounts (Car savings, Personal Savings etc). Of course this would require transforming the service from being a send and receive only function which I am hopeful is coming with some of these lengthy upgrades that are underway. If Ecocash wants to take it a notch up, they would see to the development of an agent pc sync software like a smarter version of Capu or Pesa Droid for Mpesa, with USB and Wifi connectivity just to make sure the agents balance off and manage global liquidity. I am sure at some point Ecocash will find it more prudent to have a liquidity management vehicle.
  2. Road Licences App (ZINARA, Tollgate, ZBC, Insurance) – This has been nagging for the major part of this last vehicle licencing term. What if I just had an app that was connected to my bank account or Ecocash that would diarise to pay ZINARA at expiration, that would prompt me to pay insurance on expirations, prepaid tollgate, ZBC radio license? An app that allows me to pay all these at the touch of a button. Thanks to Ecocash soon this will be possible. Of course the system would dictate replacing the static licence disk with a digital one and at the same time introducing the use of better sensors for police and checking officers. Imagine getting pulled over by Police and paying the required licence before the officer is able to write the ticket. Interested insurers would need to be integrated with Ecocash of course and like I said above Ecocash would have to offer non USSD services.
  3. Cell phone directory app – Ok directories have been made for Yellow Pages, Telone landlines and so on, but let’s face it almost everyone is migrating to wireless. By virtue of the recent government directive for a centralised database of subscriber information to be setup (including voice and text access), there is an inferred liberty for related VAS such as a centralised cell phone number directory. Users would volunteer registration information or as I am sure some lawyer will do, legally “request” the database for “research purpose”. A cell directory would be useful in finding the contact details (including address) of a registered subscriber on any of the major networks. This may include the physical, postal and electronic mail addresses, and just to top it all up, one might add GPS functionality for those who would want to be found. I am thinking SME’s, some of which have briefcase offices really. It seems however the success of this app would depend on manoeuvring around the invasion of privacy issue surrounding publication of private information. Money would be made with this app from in – app advertising, sponsored ads, subscriptions by selected member groups etc. And just to add one for good measure one could add speed dials to emergency services such as ambulance, fire and police.
  4. Catalogue / Price App – Plenty of retailers, especially retailers are looking for a platform for publicity. Think OK Grand challenge or the Food Chain win-an-Altezza competition. A channel like a mobile application for catalogue advertising would be most welcome. An app that is able to return results of a product like cooking oil from various outlets with their various pricing is very useful. You could actually do your budgeting (grocery list) from home. The same app could also be used to store below – dollar change which is rather scarce. The application needs to be endorsed by the Retailers Association for successfully implementation. Retailers supply their price lists and catalogues regularly to the app database. These are the same products that will be shown when a search is initiated. Of course there is money to be made from the sponsored products.
  5. Emergency Response Services App – Useful for Police, EMS, Civil Protection Unit and so forth. This app would be used to exchange information about situations encountered daily by these units such as vehicle registry information, Persons of Interest, Wanted List, bad weather and floods, rescue operations, Address books and so forth. Information is fed in from daily field reports and keyword searches are used to retrieve any recorded information. The same app can also be used to broadcast memos such as lookout lists, special instructions and the sort. I am positive the app would work better than the two way radios in some instances especially for communicating up to date information between field officers and the office.
  6. Health Services App – This app basically keeps a record of the holders’ medical information including medical history and medical aid. The purpose of this app would be to provide this information to health professionals as and when it’s needed in order to proffer accurate diagnosis should you fall ill. This may include dietary intake, aches and illnesses disorders and all sorts of issues. It will record any allergies and chronic diseases and alert mechanisms for patience with diseases such as diabetes. It can receive a dosage diary that prompts the user when it’s time for medication and so forth. The functions are quite broad but in stages the application can be developed in sequential versions starting with the most relevant. It is also useful in informing the subscriber about their services and where they can get medical assistance and so forth. This application could find use not only in Zimbabwe but other African countries battling with high mortality rates.
  7. Banking Apps – Ok not much pride here since it’s already been done. So, here I was thinking of how every bank seems to be going the USSD route but no one, well except Barclays (Check out the Barclays App. NOT made in Zimbabwe) seems to even be thinking of cloud based channels like an application. Trust Bank used to have a closed circle banking services PC application called Bank@EASE, a PC version of what I am prescribing. The same model would work for a mobile application, tablet and so forth. If the banks cannot do it themselves at least Zimswitch should. But I have been scolded for saying Zimswitch and Banks are slow before so I won’t go there for now. At least this product can be offered as an Elite banking package if it’s a cot issue. Basic services like balance inquiry, statement inquiry, ZIPIT Transfers, RTGS transfers, Airtime topup etcetera would be offered.

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10 thoughts on “Zimbabwe: My applications wish list

    1. Don’t know if i have your comments correctly appreciated. I am thinking here that with the prevailing micro industry, most SME’s have not installed landlines at their offices, (if they do have offices at all). Most have mobile phones as business phones. So why not make those mobile phones available in a directory.

  1. I tried to make an EcoCash app for Android once. As long as the custodians of EcoCash do not create a proper API for it, it is damn hard to make it. The Android team has never had an API for USSD requests in their SDK. and judging by this

    https://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=1285 it never will, so parsing existing USSD calls from the existing infrastructure is very difficult.

    There are workarounds, but most of these third party classes are not supported and are broken anyway. So simply put, I can’t make the Android app without help from the EcoCash team. I had already designed and developed front end for this app, but without any data to parse its just useless, and the worst part is I’m not holding my breath, havambozvigadzirise zvinhu zvawo izvi

    1. If you seriously work on it, it will be a success. No success comes from easy work. Look at Pay4app, thats a complete project to bridge a gap

    2. I think using USSD and SMS make ecocash highly prone to failures when tansactions come in high volumes. It can be difficult to audit transactions. They should just dedicate someone to create an api as they did with banks

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