Delivering Mobile Money Through Improved Payments

We believe that designing a new payment system will lead to the increased adoption and acceptance of mobile money by low-income farmers in Uganda.

Designing for Change

During research and prototyping we noticed several major challenges with the existing system that were limiting the uptake of mobile money among farmers. First, the complicated user experience significantly slows down workflows for the coffee buying staff, giving them little incentive to encourage farmers to accept mobile money. Once a payment is made it takes anywhere from one to five hours to process due to unreliable WIFI networks; whereas, cash transactions take only 20 minutes. Finally the system is heavily reliant on generator power to run the laptop and printer.

We took stock of these existing areas of friction and designed a more efficient, streamlined system with both staff members and farmers in mind.

What We Heard: The Farmer's Voice

In lieu of a fully developed tablet application, we tested a streamlined, rapid prototype to circumvent some of the UX issues present in the current system. Coffee buyers were given a mobile money agent line that can send and receive funds more quickly and cheaply than a P2P transfer.

  • “The system you brought, it’s very short, the customer gets the money immediately. It saves time. It simplifies everything.” —Geoffrey, Gibuzale, Station Manager
  • “Last time I was paid [in a digital bulk payment] it took until the night time to come through. This time was much better because my payment came through immediately.” —Vincent, Farmer


A tablet application for coffee buyers that improves the digital bulk-payment process by removing known pain points with a simple, streamlined user experience.

Design Principles

  • 1

    Make digital bulk payments faster than cash

    Eliminate farmer wait times for digital bulk payments with a tablet application that simplifies the existing payment experience.

  • 2

    Inspire confidence at every touchpoint

    Ensure that the transaction process is intuitive for washing station staff by making the tablet application easy to use, while reassuring farmers with both digital and physical forms of payment verification.

  • 3

    Establish a foundation for constant iteration

    Implement the tablet application as a modular tool that accommodates improvement based on essential data metrics captured throughout the experience.

Redesigning the Experience

Eliminating unnecessary steps and leveraging cellular data

When logging on, instead of requiring a lengthy username and password, the improved tablet experience utilizes a quick 4-digit PIN. Staff can then disperse payments in fewer keystrokes through a simplified user experience.

In contrast to the existing laptop system, the software automatically requests additional float and cash when balances get low. Additionally, the tablet hardware is less reliant on generator power and avoids the unreliability of WIFI by leveraging cellular data networks.

Ensuring processes are intuitive and accessible

The tablet experience is designed to be both instructive and intuitive for staff members at all levels of tech literacy, ensuring that staff can dispense payments with confidence. In order to reduce visual confusion and mistakes, the experience is designed with readability in mind and high contrast of on-screen elements, as well as increased target sizes.

Designing a tool that’s meant to evolve

The tablet will display daily metrics like cash, float, and daily coffee sales so that staff members are always aware of the station’s performance. It will also capture additional metrics which can be used internally to better understand the payment process. This data can be implemented on further iterations to improve the tablet application and mobile money payment process.

When, Where, & How

  • Weighing Cherries

    The improved tablet application allows staff members to enter the coffee information into the application at the moment of weighing, reducing the need to consolidate receipts at the end of the day. Farmers can decide if they want their payment in cash, mobile money, or split, and review the information on-screen.

  • Getting Paid

    For farmers who choose to receive all or part of their transaction in mobile money, payments are dispersed with one tap, and staff members have visibility into whether the cellular network can process the transaction. When there’s no network, an offline cache saves payments and automatically uploads them when the network is back up, so staff members can continue to process other transactions while they wait.

  • Beyond Payments

    Payments aren’t the only touchpoint for the improved mobile money experience. When farmers want to get a better sense of their own harvest patterns, staff can quickly locate their information in the farmer directory to offer visibility into the farmer’s recent coffee sales and cumulative totals.

Applying the Guiding Principles

Build Trust

Faster, more consistent digital bulk payments will increase farmers’ faith in the mobile money system.

Be Accessible

The new tablet user experience is designed to make the bulk payments process simpler and more intuitive for staff, ultimately making them stronger advocates for mobile money.

Offer Quick Wins

A mobile money payment process that is faster than cash provides immediate value and validation of the system to farmers.

Looking Ahead


Looking Ahead, Yo! and KCL will collaboratively design version 1.0 of the tablet software, aiming to have a functioning tool for the harvest season in July 2017. To inform ongoing development the software will be designed to capture and synthesize key metrics. Additionally, washing station staff will speak with farmers to gather feedback. We will begin testing at a single washing station and use our findings to iterate, improve, and eventually scale to additional stations.


Direct Bill Pay Through Mobile Money

Through the improved payment system, washing station staff will have the ability to directly pay farmers’ bills. In addition to providing convenience for the farmer, these payments-made through the bulk payment system-will cost less than a P2P transfer. Potential use cases include school fees, solar bills, utility bills, church tithes, and more.

Financial Planning Receipt

By integrating Financial Planning with Improved Payments farmers will receive a receipt along with their harvest payment that incorporates the aspirational goal set during their financial planning session. The receipt will advise farmers on how much of their current harvest payment should be saved, while offering reminders of the expense trade-offs made, expected savings to date, estimated remaining yield, and more.

Explore concepts in the ecosystem

  • Guiding Financial 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.

  • 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.