Round 10
Winner
Smilepay
by

Send money like a text, globally.

Budget request:  
*
WebsiteCode

Project Stage

Startup

Category

Cross-Border Payments

Based in

Ethiopia and USA

Team size

Active since

2020
Products & Services

WHAT WE DO

Smilepay is a Peer-to-Peer mobile app and USSD that helps African diasporas send money, buy airtime and pay utility bills for friends and family in Africa, in real-time and free of charge.



HOW IT WORKS

  • Both the sender abroad and recipient in Ethiopia downloads Smilepay app (recipients in Ethiopia also can use Smilepay USSD). The Sender connects their credit/debit card and tops up their Smilepay App.  The Sender sends money instantly and free of charge to the recipient using their phone number or Smile-tag. Recipients receive money in their local currency.
  • Users receive money in local currency and can spend it in the app to pay bills or buy airtime or withdraw to their bank account remotely which avoids cash pick ups.
  • Sender can also directly buy airtime and pay bills from abroad for friends and family in Ethiopia allowing them more control over how money is spent.


*Through, Smilepay app, the sender can also send money directly to the recipient's bank account with a 1% transaction fee. It's not a must for the recipient to download the Smilepay app to receive payment but they can benefit from free transaction fees when they use the app to receive money.


WHY?

  • High transaction fee by the incumbent: The average cost of sending money to Africa is 8.17%, making it the world’s most expensive remittance corridor.
  • Recipients in Africa have to physically go to the remittance company branch to collect the cash that their family and friends sent them. It's time consuming and an unnecessary hustle.
  • Senders do not have control of how the money they send is used by the recipients.  Eg. Money sent for utility bills is misused.


OUR UNIQUE ADVANTAGE

  • We use Blockchain technology to make crossborder money transactions free/or extremely cheap.
  • Diasporas will be able to send as small as 50 cents to Africa instantly, 24/7.
  • Other than sending money, Smilepay will enable Diasporas abroad to pay for utility bills and buy airtime for friends and family back home and we are the first to do all of this in Ethiopia.


OUR TARGET CUSTOMERS

  • Diasporas living abroad that have family and friends in Africa.
  • African youth that have family and friends abroad.
  • Freelance workers that get paid from abroad.


CUSTOMER INDUSTRIES

  • Business that want to sell their services through Smilepay app (Airlines, Utility companies, airtime distributors, sports betting and more)


OUR MISSION

  • Offer free, instant and frictionless movement of money domestically and across borders to Africa.


*We are starting by helping Ethiopian diasporas living in the USA to send money to Ethiopia.


HOW WE USE STELLAR

We are going to issue a stablecoin that is tethered to the USD and Ethiopian national currency Ethiopian “Birr” and maintain the equivalent fiat reserve with our partner bank.

  • On ramp for senders: We are using “Stripe API” to enable users in the USA to top-up money to their Smilepay app using their credit/debit card.
  • Off ramp for the recipient: We are using “Ethio Switch API” to enable users to withdraw money that they have received from Smilepay app to any of their local bank accounts in Ethiopia.


WHY STELLAR?

  • We needed affordable, secure and fast transactions
  • Allows our app to hold multiple currencies
  • Simple and fast to integrate
  • Future innovation opportunities. It fits our future goal of introducing cryptocurrency purchase, storage, exchange and more.
No items found.
Previous Project(s)
No items found.
Progress so far
Goals

Pilot program duration is 6 months (June - November)

  • 6,000 app downloads by the end of November
  • Achieve +$600K in transactions by the end of November
  • Raise Seed Funding of 1 million USD by end of November.
To get there, we  will use our requested budget of  
*
  to:

The necessary resources to bring Smilepay live is partnership with banks, traditional remittance companies (for their license), PR and funding.


Local Bank: We have had discussions with various local banks and all of them are interested in partnership since our service will bring forex to their banks. Currently, we are discussing internally which the best local bank to partner with is that is strategic to our goal.


Remittance license: Since we don't have a remittance license to operate in the USA, we have to partner with a remittance company that has a license. We have had a discussion with various remittance companies that operate in the USA and all of them are interested in partnering with us. Currently, we are discussing internally to choose the remittance company that is strategic to our goal.


Business partnerships: We have partnered with Derash API (bill payment data API) and Ephone (Airtime distributor API). We have started integration with E-phone and are in the process of auditing to integrate with Derash.


PR: We have joined Orange Fab accelerator. Orange Fab is giving us access to PR, Investor network, legal council and business development. As well as the opportunity for Smilepay  to provide its services in countries where Orange telecom operates.

* Through Orange Fab and Orange Telecom, Smilepay is sponsored to participate in the VIVA Tech 2022 conference, in France (15th - 18th  of June).


Funding: We currently have enough funding to pilot for a month but we are looking for additional funding from SCF to achieve the rest of the 5 month pilot program. We also want to hire more software developers.

Overview

PROBLEM

Existing services charge high transaction fees. The average cost of sending money across borders in sub-saharan Africa is 8.17% against the global average of 6.5% making it the world’s most expensive remittance corridor.

* The remittance sector is yet to get disrupted.  


SOLUTION

Smilepay is a peer-to-peer mobile app that helps diaspora send money, pay utility bills and buy airtime for friends and family in Africa, in real-time and free of charge.


How do you use Stellar in your solution?

We are going to issue a stablecoin that is tethered to the USD and Ethiopian national currency Ethiopian “Birr” and maintain the equivalent fiat reserve with our partner bank.

  • On ramp for senders: We are using Stripe API to enable users in the USA to top-up money to their Smilepay app by connecting their debit/credit card.
  • Off ramp for the recipient: We are using Ethioswitch API to enable users to withdraw money that they have received from Smilepay app to any of their local bank accounts in Ethiopia.


TARGET MARKET PERSONA

Diasporas living abroad that have family and friends in Ethiopia.

Pain Points: High transaction fees for sending money home

Needs: affordably sending money internationally, paying bills for friends and family back home, certainty about money being sent

Wants: send money on an adhoc basis, sending money in flexible amounts

Age: 21-45

Gender: N/A

Characteristics: working class individuals, sending money home monthly, University Educated in USA

Languages: Amharic, English

Location: USA

How to reach them: digital marketing, traditional marketing, referrals


Ethiopian youth that have family and friends abroad.

Pain Points: Running out of money frequently

Needs: request money and receive money from abroad fast

Wants: get family abroad to pay bills locally

Age: 15-29

Gender: N/A

Characteristics: students, financially dependant, working class individuals

Languages: Amharic, English

Location: Addis Ababa

How to reach them: digital marketing, traditional marketing, referrals, Telegram marketing


Ethiopian Freelance workers that get paid from abroad.

Pain Points: Not getting paid on time and expensive exchange rates

Needs: get paid consistently and instantly

Wants: Accept payment from anywhere in the world

Age: 18- 29

Gender: N/A

Characteristics: remote workers, online work, upwork users,

Languages: Amharic, English

Location: Ethiopia

How to reach them: digital marketing, traditional marketing, referrals, Telegram marketing


REVENUE MODEL

1. Cross border payment: Dependent on country of operation, we earn a percentage on FX interchange or charge sender 1% (maximum fee is $100)  

2. Local P2P payment:  1% fee (maximum fee $1)

3. Withdraw or Cash out: 1% fee or $1

4. Charge online businesses 2%+$0.019 of every payment accepted domestically. E.g. Airtime top, utility bills, donation.

3. Charge online businesses 2%+$1 of every payment accepted internationally.


PRICING STRATEGY

Our competitors are charging fees according to the amount of money transacted making it expensive and challenging for consumers to understand the cost of transactions. We wanted to leverage a simple and capped pricing strategy so customers always know how much transaction fee they are charged because affordability is a priority.


SALES FORECAST

It's hard to forecast sales but our nearest local competitor that started operation this year transacts up to $100,000 daily.


FINANCIAL PLAN

Cost Break Down in USD

Total Capital (Angel investment): $35,000

Available budget for Pilot Programme: $5,000


Total Pilot cost: $50,000

Deficit: $45,000

—-------

12 month Cost Projections:

Human Capital: $26,000

SAAS softwares (Softwares necessary for the app to run and for operation ): $60,684

Marketing: $ 10,000

Tax: 35%


12 month Revenue Projections:

Projected transaction volume: $1.2million


Revenue

Sending to bank accounts:  (30% of all transactions charged 1%): $3,600

Local P2P transactions (10% of all transactions: $1,200

Businesses Accepting  Domestic payments: $7,200

Business Accepting International payments: $14,000

Interchange earning: $144,000

Total Revenue: $170,000


Profit: $10,000


INDUSTRY AND MARKET RESEARCH

  1. Ethiopia is the 2nd most populous country in Africa and 24% of Ethiopian households are dependent on remittance solely.
  2. There are 3 million Ethiopian diasporas abroad (Majority in USA; also 40 million African diaspora are based in USA alone (Bloomberg).
  3. The value of Ethiopia’s inflow remittance market was measured at 5.2 Billion USD making up 25% of all forex inflow (CEPHUS, 2021)
  4. Strong support for legal remittance services because the government is losing a significant amount of foreign currency to black market trade.


Strengths:

  1. Product versatility, the app can be adjusted to serve as a mobile money if license is acquired in any country. This enables us to offer more services for recipient users.
  2. App developed to become a superapp

Weakness: Funding

Opportunities: First company to implement a peer-to-peer remittance app in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is an untapped market with Africa’s second biggest population and $5.3 Billion remittance market.

Threats: Since we are starting in Ethiopia Political instability is a threat.


COMPETITION

Left to right: Smilepay, Cash-go, Mamapays, Chipper Cash, tap tap send, World Remit, Western Union, Moneygram. Rated on 01 Peer-to-peer ability 04 Free transactions 05 capability of being a Mobile Money in the future.


MARKETING AND  SALES

  1. While building our product we have been building a waiting list of US based diaspora and local Ethiopians who are ready to use the App. We will engage this list with email marketing, Telegram marketing to get going.
  2. We are utilizing digital marketing campaigns to reach our target demographics in both Ethiopia and USA namely Google App Install and Facebook SDK campaigns to get new users.
  3. We are leveraging community-led organizations, local influencers and partner organizations in USA and Ethiopia to connect with target demographics and have our mission and incentives effectively communicated
  4. We are incentivising new users to refer friends and family with a reward points program redeemable to to airtime for Ethiopia-based users (recipients)
  5. We will be utilizing SMS and in-app notification prompts to retain users as well as engaging in giveaways to encourage users to stay connected to the Smile community


RESOURCES AND RELATIONSHIPS

Smilepay is part of Orange Fab Accelerator (Orange telecom affiliate) and we are going to be at VIVA tech 2022 in France this June, to pitch to Orange Fab’s investor networks.

No items found.

Team

Muluken Bekele

  • Founder and CEO
  • Primarily responsible for business development, product lead and UI/UX. Muluken has BA in business management, from Glasgow Caledonian University and is passionate about technology that aims to solve financial exclusion.
  • LinkedIn or other social channel: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mulukenmengesha/


Mike Zeleke

  • CFO
  • Previously CFO of Paykii (cross-border bill payment company that was acquired recently) and former Head of Operations at World First. Mike supports the company with compliance and has +8 years experience in the cross border payment sector.
  • LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-zeleke-93b86392/


Salim Nuru

  • Co-founder and CTO
  • 12 years of coding experience, built various apps in local software development companies
  • Amature magician
  • He does not like using social media except Reddit and Telegram.


Eyob Bekele


Fikremariam (Fike)

  • Co-founder and mobile app developer
  • Fike is a qualified developer specialized in mobile app development. He has a Computer Science degree from Hilco School of Computer Science and Technology - Ethiopia, and is passionate about building software products.
  • Loves playing PC games.


Clarke Dhana

  • Co-founder and marketing lead
  • Clarke leads the branding, marketing and communication efforts for Smilepay. She has experience in working with fintech startups focused in Africa. Clarke has a degree in social science from Glasgow Caledonian University.
  • Links: https://www.linkedin.com/in/clarke-dhana-4208aa143