Reframing Bulk Payments

Building a Human-Centered Ecosystem for Mobile Payments was originally enlisted to design a farmer-centered digital bulk-payments experience that will improve acceptance and use of mobile money in the coffee value chain.

How We Got Here

Over the past three years, the Gates Foundation and its partners have been working to expand mobile money and bulk payment capabilities in the coffee value chain.

While coffee buyers have the basic technical capabilities to pay farmers in mobile money, farmers have been slow to accept it—instead of cash—for their harvests. has applied human-centered design practices to build and strengthen the most important and final link in the coffee value chain: Farmers. We began by working with Kyagalanyi Coffee Limited (KCL), a Ugandan coffee buyer, to understand the needs and challenges of their farmers; then, we were able to design solutions tailored to suit their requirements.

Theory of Change: An Ecosystem Approach

Understanding Stakeholders

We started our research with Farmers but quickly realized that Mobile Money encompasses a network of connected stakeholders and in order to increase acceptance amongst farmers, we also needed to explore the relationships between a diverse collection of participants and collaborators.

Establishing an Ecosystem

After completing field research and interviews with all of the stakeholders, we mapped out how they interact with each other, and the roles each play in the coffee value chain ecosystem.

Identifying Pain Points

We observed the following recurring challenges with the current mobile money structure:

Lack of Guidance

Farmers lack understanding and guidance about how mobile money and financial services can help their farm and family.

Inefficient Delivery

It takes anywhere from one to five hours for mobile money payments to farmers to be processed. A complicated UX system significantly slows down workflows for the coffee buying staff.

Little Value Derived

Currently, there are few outlets where farmers can actually spend mobile money within the ecosystem to derive value. Farmers incur high fees when cashing-out mobile money.

Designing Solutions

We brainstormed, designed, and prototyped concepts to target these particular issues.

Bringing it Together

It is important to stress that mobile money is a system which requires a comprehensive systematic approach to increase adoption and use. Much like coffee beans need soil, water, and sun to grow and thrive, mobile money operates in a similarly symbiotic ecosystem, requiring guidance, efficient delivery and the ability to derive value.

Scaling our Approach

In conclusion, we believe this ecosystem approach offers scalable solutions that can be applied across value chains and industries to increase the adoption and use of mobile money in Uganda and beyond. Although the specifics of the concepts themselves might change depending on the industry, the approach from a conceptual level (guide, deliver, derive) stands true.

The Concepts

Guiding Principles

After extensive research and prototyping, we established three key principles which have guided the development and creation of this growing mobile money ecosystem. These insights will help us generate new iterations and evaluate their performance, while keeping us focused as the network continues to evolve over time.

Build Trust

Establishing trust is essential when working with low income farmers. We’ve worked to build on existing trust, or create trust based on clear, accessible, and consistent communication and offerings that align with farmers’ needs and desires.

Be Accessible

The remote locations of coffee farmers coupled with their lack of formal education, it’s imperative that our concepts are both geographically accessible and intuitive to use. Our goal is to align new services with the existing behaviors and mental models of this underserved community.

Offer Quick Wins

Given that coffee farmers are used to cash transactions they are unfamiliar with the ideas of setting financial goals and saving to achieve them. We built “quick-wins” into our concepts to motivate and encourage farmers as they learn this new system, allowing them to see immediate value while supporting long-term behavioral changes.

Explore Concepts in the Ecosystem

Guiding Growth Through Financial Planning

An interactive and visual financial planning service. his benefit will help farmers set goals, budget, and save, while highlighting how mobile money can be used as a tool to accomplish these objectives.

Delivering Mobile Money Through Improved Payments

A tablet application which improves the mobile money payments process by simplifying it. More intuitive UX design, quicker payment speed thanks to mobile data connectivity, and streamlined KCL staff workflow will make this a more effective tool.

Deriving Value Through Mo’Agro

A shop that accepts mobile money. Situated at rural coffee washing stations, this outpost—run by KCL and local merchants and/or mobile money agents—will offer basic necessities, agricultural inputs, and hard-to-find items.