Village commerce boosted with new app

A touch of innovation and a generous fund from the international mobile association giant GSMA, has put Samoan owned and operated Skyeye in prime position to enable rural communities to participate in the national marketplace.

They have developed a platform called Maua, which wants to help consumers, retailers, drivers and more connect to each other. GPS technology means no one gets lost, and digital payment facilities means everyone gets paid.

Key partner Digicel will be one of the mobile operators supporting Skyeye, ensuring their data network is strong enough to support the app as its used around Samoa, and providing the mobile payment gateway.

“We are definitely excited to see this come into action,” said Farid Mohammed, Digicel chief executive officer.

“It’s a way forward and changing the whole way e-commerce works in the Pacific.”

But while the rural community may be well connected to the internet, there are still relatively low rates of smartphone use.

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Mr Mohammed said ideally, government would offer the mobile operators a concession on the 20 per cent duty tax on mobile devices.

“It is early days and they are new technologies so the cost of those technologies is expensive at the moment.

 “We are talking to the government to see how we can partner with them to increase smartphone penetration in rural areas.”

He said by saving money on that duty tax, customers could save money at the retail end.

“It’s not something Digicel would like to benefit from, but something we’d like to pass on to the customer so that they are able to access the technology.”

Skyeye chief executive officer Fa’aso’otauloa Sam Saili said if getting Maua’s ideal clients on board is a hurdle due to a lack of smartphones, he plans to work with the mobile providers and development partners to try and fund a supply.

“Not all people will have smartphones, it’s true,” he said.

“But we are making plans to deal with that as it comes up.”

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