Kifiya Financial Technology Plc built the fan engagement software for Saint George Football Club.

Kifiya Financial Technology Plc, which has been losing major government contracts of late, has automated the membership platform of the oldest football club, St George.

The new system will enable fans of the club to register, pay monthly membership fees, make donations, buy club outfits and other paraphernalia using a mobile application developed by Kifiya and launched three weeks ago. Users are to download the application and register using their ID club numbers.

The club has embarked on the project with the main aim of creating efficiency and accessibility, according to Yohannes Barnabas, an IT expert and technical advisor to St George.

"The team will benefit from the system financially by widening its fan base," Yohannes told Fortune.

Kifiya, a payment service provider which has invested over 200 million Br since its establishment in 2010, will receive one Birr from every transaction.

Since the launch of the new application, a total of 1,000 people have registered, according to Abenezer Wondwossen, product support manager of Kifiya, which employs a total of 735 employees including 40 senior managers.

"On a daily basis, 50 to 60 people are registering," said Abenezer.

Haider Abrar, a member of St. George Sports Club for three years, has already registered on the system hoping the hassle to pay membership fees and buy club accessories will be alleviated.

"The club has only one branch from which it handles all transactions, and the service was inefficient," said Haider.

One of 16 football clubs in the National Premier League and the only club with more than 60 trophies, St. George claims 35,000 members across the country.

Supporters who do not use the mobile application can go to one of 10,000 Kifiya agents to conduct the transactions. Fans can also use Kifya Wallet Card, a debit card that is expected to be launched next April, as another alternative.

Though the membership registration started three weeks ago, all transactions are expected to start on March 30, according to Yohannes.

"In the meantime, we will aggressively promote the platform to attract many users."

A prominent football commentator for the past decade, Mensur Abdulikeni, commends the agreement between Kifiya and the club.

"Football clubs in Ethiopia are weak in their financial status and ability to monitise their sport merchandising business," commented Mensur. "Digital platforms have the potential to accelerate these side of the business."

Recently, the club announced that it is going to establish a share company and issue public shares in a bid to raise close to half a billion Birr.

Two years ago, Kifiya partnered with the Ethiopian Football Federation to automate booking and ticketing services of Yidnekachew Tessema Stadium, known parochially as the Addis Abeba Stadium.

Along with the new payment system, Kifiya has been the sole venue of all electronic public utility payment services including telecom, water, electricity and traffic fines and under its one-stop billing system Lehulu.

But recently government institutions started diverting their e-payment services away from Kifiya to a new electronic platform launched by Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) to accept utility payments. Ethiopian Electric Utilities and Ethio telecom have already started to switch their e-payment system away from Kifiya to CBE, and the transfer is expected to be completed by the end of this fiscal year.

Kifiya is still distributing mobile cards bearing metered telephone and online access as an agent of Ethio telecom. On a monthly basis, Kifiya disburses 250 million mobile cards through its 15 distribution centres.

The company has designed other payment systems, one of them is Mela, used by the Ethiopian diaspora to remit payments to pay bills, such as insurance and school fees, in support of relatives residing in Ethiopia. The other platform, YeneGuzo, is an electronic ticketing system used for cross country transportation.

"We are planning to launch an electronic commerce system before the end of this fiscal year," Frezer Alemu, chief e-com and distribution officer of Kifiya, told Fortune.

PUBLISHED ON Mar 02,2019 [ VOL 19 , NO 983]

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