Wleepay is a Liberian mobile money operator and one of only three licensed operators in Liberia. Wleepay is incorporated in Liberia and seeking funding to establish operations in that country. Wleepay is licensed to operate by the Central Bank of Liberia as of June 2018.
The word "Wlee" means money in several local dialects in Liberia and other parts of the West African region. Wleepay's vision is to provide an easy to use, app-based, secure mobile money solution for the unbanked and banked population living in rural and urban areas in Liberia. Despite having over 3 million cellular subscribers and averaging over $500 million USD in inbound and outbound remittances annually, only 7% of Liberians use mobile money solutions for mobile banking. Nearby Senegal and Ivory Coast have 40% and 30% mobile money usage rates respectively with Sub-Sahara Africa averaging 21% usage. Lack of mobile money acceptance by small and micro vendors, lack of awareness, mistrust, complex fee structures, and ease-of-use problems are some of the prevailing reasons described by mobile money users and agents in Liberia for the low usage of mobile money services in the country.
There are currently over 328,000 mobile money subscribers in Liberia and a little over 2,900 agents giving a ratio of about 1 agent per 115 subscribers. Mobile money is primarily only accepted at large businesses and mid-sized businesses in urban areas throughout Liberia. Subscribers are also able to use mobile money to pay utility bills and, recently, to pay taxes. The government of Liberia has launched an initiative to enable government employees to receive salaries via mobile money deposit.
Our research shows that the demand for mobile money in Liberia is latent and underserved. This conclusion is based on several observed economic and financial service challenges in Liberia. These challenges include the increasingly higher exchange rate between the Liberian and US dollar, increasing signs of economic inflation, government policy endorsing a more cashless economy, government policy to expand financial services in rural areas. widespread complaints about poor customer service by existing mobile money operators, and existing complexity in mobile money transaction fees.
Wleepay’s three co-founder are all deeply experienced in the Liberian technology, telecommunications, and overall business sectors. We even wrote about our entrepreneurial experiences in Liberia in the book titled “Broadband Coming” found at Amazon.com (https://amzn.to/2zAFJtH).
Our vision for Wleepay’s success as a mobile money operator is based on seven (7) factors: Pricing, Acceptance, Support, Innovation, Marketing, Speed, and Security. Wleepay offers a flat rate for all transactions including merchant, utility, cash-out, and tax payments. Wleepay also offers agents a higher percentage of transaction commission compared to other operators. The Wleepay app enables subscribers to avoid additional agent fees by easily doing certain transactions themselves instead of relying on the assistance of agents as is currently the case. Wleepay’s plan is to particularly target small and micro vendors to accept Wleepay as a payment method. We’re fully aware that customer support is a big concern for subscribers and plan to establish a high quality and responsive customer support operation with a well-trained staff. We also plan to provide significant agent training on customer support. Innovative and ease-of-user features are key to Wleepay’s product strategy and adoption success. Planned app features include payment by QR code, agent location by GPS, fast and real-time payment transactions, community lending pool management (called ‘Susu’ locally), Wleepay marketplace to purchase and deliver staple products from local merchants, cash-out or top-up directly to a local bank account, integration with point-of-sale terminals, pre-paid cell phone top-up, receive international remittance directly from overseas (long-term). Our goal is to continually improve and add new features to the Wleepay platform.
Along with conventional marketing methods, Wleepay’s marketing strategy also includes extensive grassroots marketing and outreach to a variety of associations (e.g. the Market Women Association, the Farmer’s Association, Council of Liberian Churches) along with roadshows in villages and other rural areas. Transaction speed and transparency are crucial to ensuring subscriber trust. All mobile money transactions are completed instantly with receipt verification. Existing users have also demanded the ability to cancel transactions within one hour if the recipient has not cashed-out the funds. The Wleepay app will include this feature. A final success factor is security. The Central Bank of Liberia, the primary regulator of mobile money operators and all financial service providers in Liberia, has established stringent compliance requirements for mobile money operators. Wleepay has developed a comprehensive Risk Management Plan to meet these requirements aimed at protecting subscribers against money laundering, fraud, theft, and service availability.
Our longer term goal is to also expand the platform across West Africa in markets such as Sierra Leona and Ivory Coast. The other two mobile money provider competitors in the Liberian market are Orange and Lonestar MTN. Both companies are cellular carriers and their platforms are based on outdated and unsecure USSD ("Quick Code") GSM technology. USSD requires the customer to manually enter a 3 or 4-digit code plus a transaction type code plus the recipient's mobile number to complete the transaction (e.g. *555*4*10*0770123456#). These platforms also do not allow for transactions between providers. Wleepay works on either carriers' service and is app based thus significantly more user friendly,
Wleepay is seeking to raise funds to complete development of its mobile money platform and infrastructure, to establish operations, and to complete additional financial compliance requirement established by the Central Bank.
Establish partnership with LBDI Bank Liberia and Nobel FinancialsOctober, 2019
Sponsored and Participated as a Guest Speaker in the Liberian Investment ForumSeptember, 2019
Renewed Mobile Money Operator’s License with Central BankAugust, 2019
Completed Wleepay development, testing, pilotingApril, 2019
Submitted “Application for License for Provisioning of Mobile Financial Services in Liberia” to Central Bank of Liberia (CBL)March, 2019
Attained licensed to operate in Liberia as a “Provisional” Mobile Financial Service OperatorJuly, 2018
Completed Pre-Licensing presentation for CBL RegulatorsJune, 2018
Developed Prototype of Wleepay App and WebsiteMay, 2018