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Bolivia: Electronic payment services

General information
Project location: Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Consortium: MovilGate SRL, Unipersonal and Kiev SRL
Project Budget: € 722,690
External financing: PSI
Project period: July 2012 - June 2014

Electronic Payment Services diagram

The costs of physical distribution of goods and services in a large and mountainous country such as Bolivia are high and ultimately paid for (if at all received) by the consumers. Smart use of IT solutions however can tremendously lower transaction costs at the benefit of the supply chain and consumers alike. A case in point is prepaid airtime, which is presently mostly distributed by way of scratch cards. Aside from other drawbacks for the vendor and the consumer, the cost of printing and distribution scratch cards and related transaction taxes amount to about 10% of the airtime value. Electronic recharge is far more efficient but the distribution without invoices means that the current system is illegal in Bolivia.

The project introduces a solution for electronic distribution of prepaid airtime to the benefit of the airtime suppliers as well as consumers. At the core of this innovative solution is a ‘point of sale’ (POS) terminal installed at the retailer. The POS terminal is a portable Mobile GPRS enabled device providing real time online connection to a back-office administration, designed to dispense prepaid cellular airtime and in future other prepaid services. The POS terminal is equipped with a printer to supply receipted evidence of service sale. This system allows for flexible operations process, commission distribution and fraud control. It makes it possible to continue and expand the electronic distribution of prepaid airtime in a legal manner, so that the supply chain can benefit from significant efficiency gains, taxes are paid where they are due and consumers can qualify for income tax deduction.

Electronic recharge is however just one of multiple services that can be delivered through the POS platform. The POS terminal can be used to offer mobile banking solutions to the retailer without the need for internet access. With the mobile banking solution, the shopkeeper can make transfers, for instance, to pay his bills to the water and electricity companies or accept electronic payment by customers. Another banking solution would allow migrants to transfer small remittances their dependents in the rural areas to who have no bank account but who thus can cash the transfer at a nearby retailer.

 The POS platform can also connect the shopkeeper to their main suppliers (wholesalers, distributors) to electronically communicate their resupply requirements and make payment. Traditionally, a distributor first makes a round to visit retailers to note down their resupply needs, before sending a truck the next day to deliver the goods to the vendor who pays the truck driver in cash. The proposed ‘corporate solution’ brings benefits to the supply chain, and ultimately the consumer, similar to those that are realized in case of electronic prepayment of airtime.

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