A toolkit for Utility service providers on mobile money integration

A toolkit for Utility service providers on mobile money integration

June 14, 2017 | Mobile for Development Utilities | Global | Global | Salima Fazal Karim

The use of mobile money payment solutions is becoming widespread in utility services. In September 2016, for example, over 1.6 million mobile money transactions were generated by pay-as-you-go (PAYG) solar energy services.

However, one of the main challenges for PAYG utility service providers is the integration with mobile money platforms. This is not yet seamless and has slowed down the pace at which PAYG utility service providers can deploy mobile money payment solutions. To help service providers address this pain point, we have consulted mobile operators, service providers and aggregators in an effort to establish guidelines to help utility providers navigate mobile money integration.

The Mobile Money Payment Toolkit for Utility Service Providers is aimed at utility service providers who would like to adopt mobile money payment solutions and focuses on questions they should consider before deploying these. It provides guidance on if, when and how to approach integration with a mobile money platform but is not a step-by-step guide to the technical integration itself.

The main driver for mobile money integration is to obtain an Instant Payment Notification which lets the service provider know in real-time that a payment to its service has been made. The service provider can then process the payment notification and turn on the pay-as-you-go device such as the Solar Home System or prepaid meter without delay for a seamless user experience. Besides fast notification and payment processing, benefits to integration include reduced fraud and losses, support for advanced functionality such as payment reversals and in general the necessary support required for deployments at a large scale.

When considering when integration is necessary for your service, the main criterion is indeed scale. While the benefits to integration are numerous, the costs in terms of time, resources required, and fees need to be taken into account as well. The toolkit goes into details into the various cost drivers to be included in the business case for integration. A simple rule of thumb is offered to determine if there is a clear case to be made for integration:

The business case for integration


If you find your service is below the threshold, the toolkit lists some of the workarounds available to obtain the payment notification, sometimes in real-time as well. If your service “qualifies” for integration, the toolkit offers a comparison between the options available namely integration with mobile money providers or with aggregators. It is mainly a trade-off between costs linked to transaction fees vs. ease and speed of integration.

While the considerations around integration – what it is, what is in the business case, when is it necessary – form the crux of the toolkit, it concludes with more general considerations around legal requirements, customer experience and education, and the recently launched GSMA Harmonized Mobile Money API.

What questions did you consider when integrating with mobile money? What other aspects of mobile money usage from deployment to post-launch should our next toolkit focus on? Please send us your comments and suggestions for this toolkit and the next one.


This initiative is currently funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), and supported by the GSMA and its members.

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