Explore the use of Airtime top-up services to pay for micro-insurance and micro-pension

Context:

The Solomon Islands has two Mobile Network Operators; Solomon Telekom Company LTD, operating as Our Telekom and Bmobile SI LTD, operating as Bmobile-Vodafone. Both are licenced and supervised by the Telecommunication Commission Solomon Islands (TCSI).

In 2017, the Solomon Islands National Provident Fund (SINPF), with support from PFIP, piloted a retirement savings product for the informal sector. One of the pilot recommendations was a call to utilise cost-effective digital delivery channels to allow for direct remittance of savings into SINPF. Because of the inefficiencies and a lack of reach into the rural areas by existing digital payment channels, the option to use airtime was recommended.

Objectives:

Although confident and relatively comfortable with the front-end requirements, the two MNOs seek for additional understanding and get clarity on three areas;

1.     Organizational Impact: The MNOs seek clarity on the possible impact on human resources, technology requirements, back-office process flows, operational risks, reporting of sales tax exemption to the Inland Revenue Department (IRD), reconciliations of funds with SINPF, insurance companies or other interested utility companies. 

2.     Market size and business opportunity: The MNOs seek a comprehensive scoping of the market for other potential collection of payments for which airtime can be used. These may include utility payments, such as water, electricity payments, solar for clean energy amongst others. 3.             Conversion of airtime into legal tender: Although airtime is not a legal tender, the Central Bank of Solomon Islands has responded positively on this initiative. The MNOs, however, seek to understand the process for the conversion into Solomon Dollars of the accumulated airtime payments from customers to bank accounts of SINPF, insurance companies and utility firms that need the legal currency.

Deliverables:

  1. Secondary market research:
  2. Extensive desk review on documents to be provided by the MNO’s and UNCDF PFIP and gathering useful documentation and information for the successful performance of the project.
  3. Deliverable: Preliminary Market research report with a general section applicable to each MNO and a specific section for each based on their particular interests and documents/data provided.
  4. Inception Report:
  5. Kick-off meeting, to discuss and agree on the objectives of the project and prioritize the onsite activities.
  6. Institutional assessment, Gap Analysis and fact findings through meetings with key staff members and teams of each MNO (for each MNO separately) and obtain first-hand inputs on their internal capacity in terms of management, finance and HR, IT systems and operations, internal management capacity and analysis of training needs of staff; current and existing process flows (business, technology & operations).
  7. Deliverables: A report with the key learnings from each institutional assessment; a workshop with each MNO (with the participation of UNCDF PFIP) to discuss the finding of the inception phase and discuss problems, possible solutions and next steps.
  8. Primary Market Scoping Research:
  9. Address the underlying concerns of the MNOs related to its business scoping so as to make informed commercial decisions.
  10. work with each MNO to develop a strategy to identify a sample of key use cases (business case for/with ability to do a digital payment via Airtime) with representation from both urban and rural markets.
  11. Deliverables: A market scoping report highlighting opportunities and practical foreseen challenges to overcome for a successful implementation of Airtime as a means of payment in the Solomon Islands.
  12. Market scoping analysis for the MNOs and related business cases
  13. Define a market strengthening strategy that considers each MNOs strategic objectives in this project and key steps to achieve them; Potential partnerships which may strengthen their offerings; Current capabilities of the MNOs to implement these strategies and gap assessment to hone the strategy further.
  14. Prepare the Product Development Plan (PDP), including an inventory of the operational and financial implications of the products & channels proposed to facilitate decision-making by the management team.
  15. Deliverables: Report of 3 business cases and Recommendations for the implementation; facilitate a 1-day delivery workshop with senior management of each MNO and UNCDF PFIP.

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