Be your own boss

GTB Editor
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Seamless Distribution Systems's COO Tommy Eriksson on company's latest projects on innovation

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Q. What makes “be your own boss” a truly innovative solution?

With innovation and positive social impact at the heart of this project, this service is a one of a kind innovative venture that brings the power back to the common member of society for the first time. It does so by enabling MTN Zambia customers to purchase airtime using their Mobile Money account and start off their own airtime resale business to earn commissions on each sale instantly. From the convenience of their phone, any subscriber can become the boss of his own airtime distribution business. MTN envisioned the initiative to encourage entrepreneurial spirit and benefit young people who are starting out in the real world or the unemployed with limited opportunities or those looking to expand their entrepreneurial efforts with limited investment.

The service is user-friendly and easy to get on-board with. There is no special requirement of using some terminal, gadget or investing a bulk of money, the only pre-requisite is being a Mobile Money account holder with a mobile phone to operate from. With this innovative product, MTN aims to not only improve the availability of mobile airtime but share the benefits of cost saving distribution with the subscriber-turned-reseller as well. 

This project is socially innovative and economically sustainable. MTN gains a distribution and promotion channel for digital recharge along with brand loyalty while the subscribers get an opportunity to earn commissions. 

Q. How does Seamless standout from its rivals in a competitive digital market?

Over the years, we’ve established ourselves as a leading supplier for digital distribution. Our platform empowers more than 23 customers worldwide and gives unparalleled stability along with diverse features to enhance performance of our customers. Seamless has an outstanding service delivery performance and record with the highest system stability rate in the industry. Our products not only work but also perform and bring significant results. Our strategy is driven by our focus on customer needs, be it active or latent. Our expert team caters to every requirement meticulously and works on every project with passion and dedication. We’re very flexible and adaptable and hence have successfully delivered projects in the Middle East, Europe, Africa and North America. 

Q. What are the most important elements to make a project successful for you and your partners?

The most important metric that makes a project successful for SDS is if we could help our partners achieve the business goal that they envisioned to accomplish out of the project. SDS strives to not just be a technology partner but also understand the business objectives to be achieved and then carefully work with our partner to craft the complete service to achieve those objectives. At SDS, we don’t believe that delivering customer requirements within a particular timeframe and budget are enough to tick mark a project as successful. The additional ingredients for a truly successful project are passion, dedication and flexibility. Passion which helps us achieve the common goal in the best way possible, endless dedication which fosters on customer trust in our services and an inherent flexibility to adapt to various needs. 

We believe in nurturing a trust-based relationship with our partners to create effective innovative projects together. 

Q. What challenges were your partners facing before you launched your project, and how did you tackle them?

This project was envisioned to resolve a latent need of MTN customers. MTN saw that it could improve the livelihood of its subscribers through this unique offering. Apart from the challenge of short delivery timeline of the project, the project was well executed from the technical side and very well supported by SDS’ infrastructure. One of the challenges that appeared during implementation and after the launch of the product was changing consumer behaviour. Subscribers and resellers in Zambia are habitually comfortable with scratch cards, hence, the electronic recharge method faced with hesitation to acceptance.

Previously, resellers were used to vending scratch cards but were now pushed to sell the product electronically. Also, the commissions earned by the existing distribution network were disturbed as newly registered Tamanga resellers weren’t part of any distribution hierarchy. This resulted in loss of potential income for distributors. This challenge was quickly identified and a solution proposed where distributor also gets a commission on sale made by Tamanga resellers in his region. 

Q. What is the real-world impact and benefits of your product for MTN Zambia subscribers? 

Globally, scratch cards were the most accepted way of recharging mobile airtime accounts, however, with cut-throat competition in the telecom industry, it became vital for telecom operators to adopt cost-efficient ways of operations and distribution. This project has helped MTN Zambia sustain profits and pass on the benefit to the customer while focusing on delivering better quality services. Digital distribution (electronic distribution) has become the driver for the telecom industry to move towards lean processes, and away from the traditional, costly and carbon intensive ways of recharge i.e., scratch cards.

One of the major problems in Zambia is that this project helps resolve is the reluctance of mobile subscribers to use electronic channels for recharge. With be your own boss initiative, Zambian subscribers realise the true value and potential associated with electronic transactions, hence increasing etopup penetration. This gives more power to subscribers and instils an inclination towards economically, socially and environmentally sound alternatives of electronic recharge. It also ensures widespread availability of airtime even in remotest of areas and increases the footprint of reseller base as subscribers are not bound by location or region to register for the service. Not only does it give an incentive for people to become resellers of MTN but helps cut down the high logistical costs of generating, warehousing, transporting and distributing scratch cards. Lastly, the initiative provides entrepreneurship opportunity to everyone regardless of their social status or economic standing. 

Q. What other innovations is Seamless working on?

SDS specialises in providing software technology in the domains of digital distribution, promotion and marketing, business intelligence and other professional services. With a focus on innovation and becoming a force in digital disruption, we’re working on some new and impactful services. 

The recent launch of Micro Credit service for resellers of mobile airtime is the first of its kind service that provides a unique value proposition of business continuity and improved market penetration by enhancing resellers’ ability to always provide topup. This service will be introduced to the market, enabling resellers to continue providing electronic airtime topup even when they do not have adequate prepaid airtime credit available.

We’re also actively working on creating a product that enables digital distribution as a service to distributors around the globe. This product is a modern, low-cost and highly efficient tool that enables fast roll-out and immediate sales enablement of electronic products of a service provider. We aim to digitalise distribution and make it cost-efficient by providing a one stop shop to all e-distribution needs. 

We continuously strive to improve access to mobile payments and transactions by expanding the delivery channels to include the basic ones like USSD to more advanced ones like a smartphone application etc. We actively integrate technologies like QR codes, NFC to make payments easier and convenient for our clients.  

Seamless Distribution Systems:

MTN Zambia: