Automating Mobile Payments Using SMSsync


One of the things I dislike the most is that the mobile payment method in DukaPress is very manual. This is how it works:

  1. someone orders for something and pays via mobile phone
  2. the shop admin gets the mobile payment received notification on his phone
  3. the shop admin then marks the order as completed and sends an email to the customer that he received payment (via DukaPress admin)

What if the shop admin is asleep, or otherwise engaged? The customer will have to wait for hours before getting any notification that his payment was received. If you ask me, this process is ripe for automation.

SMS Sync

SMS Sync - can we use it to automate mobile payments in DukaPress?

So yesterday, Ushahidi released their SMSsync Android application. Basically, is a simple SMS to HTTP sync utility. It turns any Android phone into a local SMS gateway that syncs to the web.

It strikes me as one possible way of automating DukaPress mobile payments. Here is what I have in mind in its simplest form:

  1. someone orders for something and pays via mobile phone
  2. the shop admin gets the mobile payment received notification on his phone
  3. SMSsync receives the SMS and sends it to the online shop, to a particular URL. Of course it would have to be configured to only do this for text messages that are from the mobile payment gateway indicating receipt of payment
  4. DukaPress then accesses the URL where SMSes are sent and automatically completes an order (sends payment notification received email) – it can, for instance, compare the mobile phone number in the order log with that which sent money to the shop admin.

It would not be a perfect system, but it would work. What we need to do is build into DukaPress a system that checks a certain URL (on the particular shop’s site) for SMSes sent over by SMSsync and compare that information with the order log generated whenever a customer makes a purchase. On the surface, it sounds simple, eh?

For this kind of automation to work:

  • The shop admin must have an Android phone (for now, Ushahidi indicated that other mobile platforms will follow shortly)
  • The shop admin must install SMSsync on that phone
  • We must make it easy enough for the shop admin to be able to configure SMSsync to work with his shop
  • The shop admin should always be in an area where his phone is connected to the Internet (not a problem, I think)

Some questions for you, dear reader

  1. Is this something you would want, or can see yourself using? We don’t want to develop this if no one will use it…
  2. Is there a better way of doing this?
  3. What problems/challenges of the proposed system can you see?

Leave your comments below, and maybe we’ll start working on this soon. Thanks!

6 Responses

  1. NatArybol says:

    We run an online sex toy shop here in question is….with nigerian Gsm networks,will the mobile payment option work,with having our client get to bank to pay?

    • Kelvin says:

      I’m not sure how mobile payments in Nigeria work. here in Kenya, they work as such:
      -You access your mobile payment menu on the SIM card
      -You send money to some number-
      -The person receives an SMS saying he got X amount of money from the sender

      If it works similarly in Nigeria, then what we intend to build will work there too!

      • Thanks for your reply kelvin.i guess we do not have the mobile payment application on nigerian gsm would be a greate revolution for business if we can send payment on phones here.however i soon plan to set up a free wear coutour weasite and i plan to fully take on Dukapress has to make it a better experience.ANy suggestions?

  2. MarvinO says:

    You are certainly right something needs to be done to improve the mobile payment option for dukapress since customer response is critical if you need to establish a solid e-commerce business.Well,am not that techie guy but here are some of my suggestions:
    1.lntegrating directly with the money transfer providers e.g.getting real time updates from their servers on transactional details number,transactional numbers and storing them within your site for buyer to authenticate e.g using Mpesa transactional code where a buyer enters the code received on his phone with what is stored within the website to complete a transaction like is doing.
    2.Integrating with other online Mobile money transfer gateways in Kenya integrating services like PesaPal,JamboPay within your platform.
    This might be a long shot to take given the complexities involved and integrating across the globe’s different networks.All in all,any improvement to dukapess mobile payment is highly welcome given mobile commerce is the future!

  3. nel says:

    integrate it with jambopay or ipay

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