It’s been a year since we last spoke about Mvendr, the Android app that was created as a platform for micro traders and vendors to sell prepaid services like airtime and DStv subscriptions.
Now the MVendr app has been revamped, something that easily caught our attention because of the noise around vendors in Zimbabwe. Looking at the app, it’s still easy to see how this has all the makings of a good solution but for the Zimbabwean market it’s being affected by a couple of challenges.
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As an application works by allowing businesses and traders who want to earn money selling products and accepting payments to do this via a mobile phone. It allows the selling of airtime and bundles, ZESA prepaid tokens, movie and stadia tickets and so forth via a vendor’s smartphone.
All you need to do is download the app from the Play Store, and deposit cash at their nearest bank (CABS and Barclays for now) the same way agents do with EcoCash, TeleCash and One Wallet, and start selling via hot recharge and ZESA codes via SMS.
Several times agents face subscribers who want to avoid send-money charges by depositing cash directly into the recipient’s mobile wallet. This transaction option is prohibited by all three MNOs because it deprives operators of transfer fees.
MVendr app will offer this transaction option in the near future and it works without registering users at all. A sender comes in with their deposit and indicates the destination mobile number. The receiver gets an SMS alert with a security code and collects cash at the nearest MVendr agent. The charges are not set as of now.
Simplicity, Look and feel
It is a key attribute to study the market of your apps first before deployment to make sure the target niche is able to use the app and navigate around its menus. With the apps main aim being to get quick transactions processed, the app is very simple and straight forward.
It is very clear what can be done on Mvendr app and how to achieve it. Even the registration to become a vendor is relatively simple. The app is themed appropriately and is not clustered providing any average adult who is used to WhatsApp and browsers a simple interface.
Once logged on, security seems to be rather lax. The App works on the assumption that one’s phone is their own charge. Leaving the app unused for a period does not timeout. While one would prefer this for speed, it would be a disaster if the phone were lost or stolen. A prompt for password would be appropriate at various stages.
The MVendr app is downloaded from the Play store. We dont know whether another channel such as a repository of the apk file will be made available. MVendr transactions and login require some mobile data for execution. The data (download and transactions) criteria by itself can spell doom for the success of an app in Zimbabwe. There’s also the fact that you have to subscribe to use the app for $0.99 a month a figure that will be deducted from the vendors balance, no MasterCard or international payment solution required.
Verdict: This is a straight to the point app. If it were not for the hassle of buying it on Google Play and the app’s data dependency, no matter how little, I could predict some serious traction through promotion. It could be an affordable alternative to the mobile POS in ZB’s agency network for ZESA. A company like Easipark could find very good use for it for their agents selling parking space.
Sadly all of this won’t matter, even if we are flooded with vendors at every turn. No matter how efficient the app is, it will not matter as long as doesn’t solve these challenges relevant to Zimbabwe. But, then again, this app isn’t for Zimbabwe only. So, perhaps, it will have a greater uptake in the other countries it has been launched.