Technology in Burkina: SAFLAN, the new revolutionary software in the field of telephone recharges

The digital world is changing rapidly. Only a few years ago, it was not possible for a phone to act as an electronic wallet or a transaction tool. All these innovations are the result of research by young dynamic people who are passionate about the digital world. Among its visionaries is Tinga Jean Bonkoungou, a former student from Morocco and director of 3MI, a digital communications company. Created in 2010, this company works not only to develop SMS and e-mail sending solutions but also develops mobile applications. Since 2020, 3MI has put on the Burkinabè market a revolutionary application called SAFLAN which facilitates the purchase of communication credits and internet packages. From now on, with the “Orange Money” or “Moov Money” electronic wallet, it is possible to recharge units and internet packages from any telephone network anywhere in Burkina with the SAFLAN application. To find out more about this new discovery made in Burkina, let’s meet its designer.

Lefaso.net: What is SAFLAN?

Tinga Jean Bonkoungou: SAFLAN comes from the combination of fast and express recharge services, namely SA for SAP-SAP recharges, FLA for FLASH recharges and N for NANA-EXPRESS recharges.

The idea was born from our company which evolves in software design. Indeed, we design software that automates the different actions of our customers and in this sense we have asked ourselves many questions. Many Burkinabè have several telephone numbers (2 or 3 or more) from different networks.

In addition to this, with the advent of “mobile money”, each operator gives its customers the possibility of carrying out their transactions. But we see that many use a single mobile money for their transactions. So the question that arose is how, from the money I have in my mobile money account, can I buy units and internet packages for my other telephone numbers or for numbers of other people ? It is this challenge that 3MI has taken up by the grace of God.

The beginnings were not easy, especially the technical aspects which were very complex, but with determination, professionalism, love of a job well done, we succeeded. The first version of the SAFLAN application was released on December 11, 2020.

Who are the designers of this software?

The application is the result of several years of research and we didn’t even know that we were going to end up with SAFLAN. I am a software engineer by training and also a software architect, so I was able to initiate the design of this software with a dynamic team that accompanies me. I can therefore say that I am the centerpiece of the design of this software.

Since 2020, therefore, it has already been two years of existence. How many users do you have?

As soon as the application was launched on December 11, 2020 at Banfora, the customers who approached them clearly understood what it was about and what transformation was taking place in the market. The idea was that this application would facilitate recharging and allow people to no longer have difficulty recharging their accounts with communication credit or an internet package.

At any time and at any place, it was now possible to top up any phone number with a mobile money account. Right from the start, people embraced the software. Currently, we have approximately over 76,000 individual customers. But in terms of usage, today we have about over 1,000,000 transactions. This means that the system is really used. In such a short time, we have reached this potential and the number of downloads is also growing.

What services does your app offer?

SAFLAN currently offers refills for communication units and refills for internet plans. SAFLAN thus allows customers, wherever they are in Burkina Faso and abroad, to top up their phones with communication credit and internet packages.

You mentioned recharging internet packages as well as units. How can this be done in practice?

We wanted the SAFLAN application to be available at all times, easy to access and easy to use. First, you need to install the app on an Android phone or an iPhone phone with a small internet connection. To do this, simply download via the App Store (launch App Store and search for SAFLAN) for iPhone phones and on Play Store (launch Play Store and search for SAFLAN) for Android phones. Once the application is installed, you no longer need an internet connection to use it wherever you want. To carry out your operations (purchase unit or purchase of internet package), simply select the network on which you want to recharge, put the amount as well as the number and you select the mobile money you wish to use for your operation (Orange money or Moov money).

What is the minimum and maximum amount that can be topped up?

It’s like refills in ordinary times. The minimum top-up is 100 francs. As for the maximum, it will depend on you and your financial capabilities.

Is there a partnership between the telephone operators and you?

In this field, we cannot exercise without the mobile telephone operators. Above all, we resell the communication credits and Internet package of the operators just like the itinerant salesman of unit. Because we are not a telephone operator. We are just intermediaries like any other intermediary except that we use digital for our transactions. It is therefore a good partnership relationship that we maintain with mobile telephone operators and we contribute to increasing their turnover with the recharging facilities provided by our customers. And at the same time, we are helping to increase the Mobile Money account base.

SAFLAN team

Let’s always talk about security. Can you reassure that personal data such as customers’ mobile money codes are not at risk of being copied?

This is a security question that many customers have asked us from the very beginning. Others were reluctant to use the app. But I would like to reassure our customers again and tell them that we don’t even have access to their mobile money account. We do not have access to their codes. During their transactions on the application, as soon as they put the amount and click on the “recharge” button, it is the mobile money operator who takes over for the validation of the operation until the seizure PIN code to validate the purchase. We have no idea what the client code is. And we have never had a problem at this level. Moreover, our customers, when they use the application, can already realize that we have no access to their codes.

In a country where the illiteracy rate is quite high, do you have features that allow uneducated people to use the application?

We are working on it. As I told you, we come from research. And the research is ongoing. We have all these difficulties in mind and we are doing everything to take all these concerns into account as we move forward.

Do you often get feedback from your customers?

As SAFLAN stems from research, the concerns of the customers had to be at the center of the application from the start. And this, to be able at any time to modify, reshape the application to the customer’s needs. There is also an option in the application that allows the customer to give his opinion, to give his appreciation and to make comments. This feature is used a lot by customers to give us suggestions and recommendations or, sometimes, to complain when there are network problems in general. All this improves the application. I can even say that it is thanks to the intervention of our customers that we added the sharing option on the application. A lot of people encourage us through comments because they find the app really makes it easier for them to communicate. There is no longer any need to travel distances to top up your account with credit or an Internet package. For some, you even had to travel outside your workplace to get recharged.

Suggestions are opportunities to make updates to your application. How many updates have you had to do so far?

We are making a lot of updates to our app. And this in order to take into account the considerations of our various customers. In 2021 alone, we made 9 updates. And it continues. The client must feel that he is at the center of our concerns and that we take his suggestions into account.

SAFLAN can be used even outside Burkina, as you said earlier. How is it possible ?

For those who are abroad and who have a local number, ie the number of one of the operators of Burkina Faso, it is indeed possible to use the application. Simply install it and then proceed in the same way with your Burkina Mobile money account. You can, in this case, buy units for yourself or for people who are in Burkina Faso. We have had feedback from people who have gone on a mission and who have been able to carry out their operations.

A last word for the road?

I extend my encouragement to my dynamic young SAFLAN team. It is certainly a software product, but the challenges are enormous and complex. We have the entire population of Burkina Faso to consider and the SAFLAN team is on duty 24/7 to respond to customer concerns and assist them. There are even people who make charging mistakes and you have to know how to manage all of this. This means that we must remain available for the customer. As far as customers are concerned, I would like to remind them that we are available at all times on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and even WhatsApp, so they can contact us for a comment or for any assistance needed.

Link to download the SAFLAN application on:

- Play store

- App store

- YouTube (SAFLAN tutorial video)

Interview by Abdoul Rachid Sow

Lefaso.net

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