As our Bots For Messenger Challenge in the Middle East and Africa enters its final month for submissions, we wanted to take the opportunity to spotlight Kudi.ai, one of the many talented bot developers from Africa.
Kudi offers financial services over messaging for Africans to lower the barrier to digital payments. Kudi is committed to building a platform that allows any merchant in Africa to sell and accept payments through messaging.
In 100 words or less describe what your bot does.
Kudi is a payment assistant bot that helps Nigerians buy mobile airtime, send money and pay bills (electricity & television subscription) from the comfort of Messenger. Kudi lowers the barrier to digital payments by allowing users to make these purchases using everyday conversation style in a messaging environment where they are already comfortable.
Who are you trying to reach?
We are focusing on the 500 million+ mobile phone users in Africa, and our headquarters are in Nigeria.
What’s the killer feature/interaction?
Kudi saves recipients of airtime topup and funds transfer, shielding users from the friction of remembering recipient phone or account numbers. For example, a user can text to Kudi, “Hey Kudi, send 2k airtime to my mum”. Kudi will retrieve Mum’s phone number and will send the airtime to her based on its prior ‘knowledge’ of Mum’s phone number.
How did you go about designing your bot?
Designing the bot in itself is an on-going iterative process. We start with a base line of reasonable assumptions of what interactions should look like. We then fine-tune these assumptions by conducting user research to get a representation of how people communicate their intent of funds transfer, airtime topup purchase etc. Based on the initial data, we create models to understand user requests and response. This flow generates more data that we then implement, improving and broadening our input range. We continue to monitor user interactions, to identify areas where Kudi needs more knowledge, always with the goal of being responsive to users.
What have you learned since launching? Any surprises or successes you want to share?
We’ve learnt to be very brief and concise in the wording of our messages to maximize user engagement. In order to encourage use of Kudi, we don’t ask users for their details before we need it. We no longer start the dialog by asking for an email or phone number or card information. It seems obvious but we made this mistake early on.
What delights us the most are a crop of users who shared with us that their first digital payment experience is through Kudi. This made us realise that accessibility and frictionless experience can mobilize users to make payments digitally.
What will you build next?
We are working on integrations that will make it possible for unbanked Africans to access the payment services offered by Kudi. Financial inclusion is something we are very passionate about and such integrations will extend the convenience provided by digital payment to more Africans.
A foundation of our company is making easy to pay and get paid.
Messenger as a platform is easy to build on and there is amazing community support. Many Nigerians already constantly interact with friends on Messenger. The reach of Messenger globally, ensures adoption of Kudi on Messenger doesn’t require a learning curve to our users. Finally, Messenger is a part of free basics. Nigerians in bandwidth constrained areas have guaranteed access to digital payment services offered by Kudi without having to worry about data cost.
If you are inspired by Kudi’s success, and are a developer in the Middle East or Africa, please join the Bots for Messenger Challenge, a contest to recognize and reward local developers who are able to create the most innovative new bots on Messenger across one of these three categories:
1. Gaming and Entertainment
2. Productivity and Utility
3. Social Good
Teams of up to 3 people are invited to participate in the Challenge. The submission period runs from February 15, 2017 to April 28, 2017.