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Introducing OpenPAYGO™ Pass: Enhanced Paygo Activation in Areas without Mobile Money

OpenPAYGO Pass PaygOps oper source app

We are pleased to introduce OpenPAYGO™ Pass, the latest open-source innovation created by SolarisLab in conjunction with the EnAccess Foundation, in an effort to enhance the customer journey for end users of Pay-as-you-go (Paygo) products and services living in areas where Mobile Money (MoMo) is not available, while allowing last-mile distributors (LMDs) to collect valuable usage data, through affordable RFID tags and a free mobile app. 


OpenPAYGO™ Pass is a joint development between longtime collaborators SolarisLab and EnAccess, fitting comfortably into the OpenPAYGO™ Suite of technologies to help the solar industry move closer to achieving the sustainable development goal of providing widespread access to clean and affordable energy (SDG7). The idea behind this exciting open-source tool is to allow end-users residing in geographic areas where MoMo connectivity is low or unavailable, to have a seamless Paygo experience through the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) cards, as currently users in such areas have to undergo a time consuming and inconvenient process to activate their Paygo devices.

The need for OpenPAYGO™ Pass

Paygo has proven necessary to unlock energy and essential services to more than 400 million people within the 1.8 billion unbanked population worldwide. The Mobile Money sector has been a crucial piece in that success, enabling the infrastructure for customers to pay for goods and services within reach of a simple mobile transaction, saving time for Paygo operators as well, who now do not necessarily have to collect cash. GSMA reports suggest that Paygo customers are considered high-value customers for the MoMo sector and drive revenue for mobile operators, as the use of MoMo for Paygo repayments also propels users to engage in other MoMo-enabled transactions and services.

However, there are still territories in the world where MoMo service providers don’t operate or remote regions where Paygo providers are yet to integrate with MoMo, where end users of Paygo products and services must go through a cumbersome process to make their corresponding repayments. The solution for customers in these areas is to write down the serial number of their Paygo device on a piece of paper, go to the nearest kiosk, make the payment in cash and hand the sequence of numbers to the agent, who will then write a token on a piece of paper that the customer will take home to use for Paygo activation, a clearly error-prone, time-consuming and risky process that also prevents distributors from obtaining important usage data.

OpenPAYGO™ Pass aims to significantly improve this process for the end user, while allowing distributors to collect usage data via an RFID tag. With this solution, the end user will tap the tag on the Paygo device before going to the kiosk to pay, tap it at the kiosk after paying, and tap it again at home to activate the device and continue enjoying energy and other services. 

The solution relies on affordable-cost RFID readers (less than $1 USD) integrated within Paygo devices and RFID tags (approx, $0.01 - $0.5 depending on style) to be given to clients, allowing for an enhanced client journey and free data feedback. The other crucial component of OpenPAYGO™ Pass is a free mobile app, which the agent will use to load the tag with the corresponding Paygo token.

Similar mechanisms are leveraged by some utilities providers in Sub-Saharan Africa, without the data-retrieval component. OpenPAYGO Pass enables a cost-effective system to extend the benefits of Paygo products and services in areas without MoMo by enabling a much simpler and less error-prone customer journey, as well as a great opportunity to unlock results-based financing (RBF) for customers who are typically overlooked due to connectivity issues. 

OpenPAYGO™ Pass Technical Details

1. On Paygo devices:

a. The device is equipped with an off-the-shelf RFID reader/writer module (e.g. RC522)

b. The device keeps track of some key metrics in a summarised way (using for example running stats) to ensure that the amount of data to be stored is constant and will always fit within the limited available space on the RFID tag (e.g. total power consumed, average battery soc, hours of use of loads, etc.). 

c. The device reads the tag and decodes its payload using the OpenPAYGO™ Metrics format 

d. The device then writes the summarised stats into the tag in the OpenPAYGO™ Metrics format and resets its running stats. 

2. On the mobile app:

a. The app is open source, making it available for use and modification according to the distributor’s needs (source code files can be found here)

b. When the tag is tapped on an app implementing the protocol, it reads the data in OpenPAYGO™ Metrics format

c. It then sends that data to the backend server used by the app (e.g. PaygOps, Angaza, etc.) in OpenPAYGO™ Metrics format, performing (if needed) a conversion to JSON with an off-the-shelf library. 

d. The server answers with any activation tokens available for the device and saves the activation tokens obtained from the Paygo server into the RFID tag in OpenPAYGO™ Metrics format.

An Improved Customer Journey

The improved customer journey that OpenPAYGO™ Pass unlocks would be as follows:

  1. The client goes to the nearest kiosk available to pay and presents the OpenPAYGO™ Pass tag

  2. The agent collects the cash and taps the tag on the OpenPAYGO™ Pass mobile app. The app not only transmits the token activation code, but also receives usage data so that distributors can collect important usage feedback .

  3. The client goes back home and taps the tag onto their device to keep enjoying the Paygo service

Try out OpenPAYGO™ Pass and Provide Feedback

🟠 If you’re a manufacturer or a last-mile distributor interested in adopting OpenPAYGO™ Pass, feel free to download the source code files here. The OpenPAYGO™ Pass mobile app can be downloaded for free from the Google Play store. Thank you for joining the Paygo revolution!

🟠 Learn more about OpenPAYGO™ Suite, the stack of free and interoperable open-source tools developed by SolarisLab, which includes the renowned OpenPAYGO™ Token (developed alongside EnAccess). You can also provide feedback or contact us for further enquiries.


About SolarisLab:

SolarisLab is the engineering force from Solaris Offgrid that pushes the limits of efficiency and sustainability to support companies in delivering life-changing technology for the Next Billion. We guide manufacturers to design successful products oriented to inclusive energy access around the world, and walk them through the whole process of bringing products to life.

About EnAccess:

Established in 2017, The EnAccess Foundation is a nonprofit that funds the development of open-source solutions for the energy access industry. It focuses on sharing open-source hardware, software, and toolkit solutions that save energy access organisations time and money, to accelerate progress towards SDG7. For more information, visit their website.

About PaygOps:

Solaris Offgrid’s flagship fintech software, PaygOps, enables credit to be provided to the bottom of the pyramid for essential products like solar home systems, agri-inputs, water pumps. The end customers pay incrementally via mobile money under a PAYGO model. PaygOps provides the software infrastructure to manage the contracts, payments and related communication for the local retailers of such products. Our affordable modular and interoperable solution connects energy and payment methods (Pay-as-you-go, mobile money) to a suite of enterprise applications that allows the smooth management of lease financing and field operations, while providing key financial data and metrics to investors.

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