A local tech start-up, Hexakomb, is making an attempt at increasing the section of the general public using cashless solutions to pay for basic services via digital means. The firm is pursuing the goal by working to ease the payment of basic services such as loading airtime, data bundles, cash power tokens and sending money. Hexakomb has since developed an application, Nokanda, available on Google Play and Apple App Store seeking to ease payment for services which the founders say could drive uptake of digital payment solutions. In developing their solution, the firm’s Founder and Chief Executive Ernest Kayinamura said that they established that while different payments can be made via USSD mobile transactions, memorizing short codes for different transactions was a challenge for most of the general public. To address the challenge, they created a solution which allows users to access multiple services without having to memorize short codes. “Memorising USSD short codes for each and every transaction is time-consuming and inefficient. Our team thought that there could be a better way to do it. So we developed a prototype and used it internally in the company. Soon friends saw us using the app and wanted to use as well. This is how ‘Nokanda’ was created. Today, it saves time and make daily transaction easy,” Kayinamura told Doing Business. With USSD short codes being the most common ways to pay for digital solutions, he argued that they may not necessarily be the most convenient especially for owners of smart phones. “Anyone who buys a smartphone wants to make good use of their technology investment. Going through a USSD menu when you have a smartphone feels like using outdated technology. Most people use mobile money, buy airtime, data bundles, or even cash power but the experience can be improved. For example, many users were frustrated by having to copy and paste numbers from their address book in order to send money to their contact,” he said. The solution seeks to address challenges that have been emerging in cashless uptake in the country evidenced by Central Bank data. Despite the growth of mobile money penetration and transactions over the years, much of the money is cashed out. For instance, at least six million mobile transactions valued at Rwf2,058 billion were carried out in the first half of 2019, according to the Central Bank. However, the same figures show, only 4 per cent of the sum was used to pay merchants for either goods or services. With that, a large portion of mobile money transactions in Rwanda does not qualify as fully-fledged cashless payments as it only serves cash transfer purposes. Hexakomb figures that by making digital payments fast and convenient more people will be more willing to use digital payments and more merchants will be willing to accept them. To ensure further convenience, the firm tailored the solution in a way that the application can work without internet which they say was been appealing to users. The app is in English and Kinyarwanda to reach different audience preferences. “We are the first and only app that can work completely without internet after the initial download. This is a unique innovation that makes our app very appealing to users,” the Chief Executive said. The appeal to users has been evidenced by positive ratings on the Google Play Store where it has ranked second among Rwandan users. Going forward, the firm is seeking to work with other financial institutions such as banks, Saccos and microfinance institutions to collaborate and leverage the platform to improve their clients’ experience in making digital payments.