Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Is Saya emerging as a competitor of WhatsApp??

An innovative and fresh Ghana-based chat application, Saya has a brought new boom in the country and has gained huge popularity amongst mobile phone round the globe. Discovered in 2012, Saya is a true substitute for text messaging like WhatsApp but the app is built for feature phones only. A pass out from Accrabased Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology, Robert Lamptey explored Saya to resolve the problem of expensive SMS messaging faced by most feature phones users. The app has attracted users from 35 countries across the globe and is keenly used in developing countries outside Africa such as Syria, India, Indonesia and Bangladesh. Lamptey outlines that Saya has been popular among users in the revolutions in Egypt, Syria and Libya. The service in the beginning offered group messaging for non-smartphones but has now expanded to the smartphone market as well. The initial acceptance of the new app came as a surprise to Lamptey and his co-founder Badu Boahen. The application went viral with nearly 400,000 downloads in its first two months.

Commenting on this, CEO of Saya Mobile expressed, “Five months after the launch we got 14m people who had been invited by their friends to use the service. We realized that each person was inviting about 100 people to join. There was this guy in India who had 120 people on his phonebook using Saya. We contacted him and he told us he found it useful. Lamptey attributes the victory of Saya Mobile to his family background and upbringing in a household where striving to be the best was encouraged. He further articulated, “I was one of the few kids in the neighbourhood who had a chemistry lab [and] who dismantled TVs. I was a science student. I used to win all the literature awards in school. My father always taught me to be the best in everything I did. Even if I wanted to be a footballer, there was one rule: be the best.”

Lamptey told we stepped up in Africa with the moving of Saya into enterprise messaging, a venture that will aid the company to monetise. He explains that Saya Mobile waited this long because there was “no clear way to monetise.” He stated, “Most of the ways to monetise involved premium SMS and the margins were not good because telcos would take about 75% of the amount and the company providing a short code would also take a cut. The math just didn’t make sense,” he says. “I think for us the right conditions were not available. If we had been in Kenya where M-Pesa was started, it would have been easy to plug in M-Pesa into the app.” Saya Mobile has raised funding in the “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to cover its operating costs and technology development.


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