Most blockchain technology services are built with smartphone users in mind. However, most mobile phone users in Africa use feature phones with USSD as the primary interface. Of the 770 Million mobile phone users in Africa, about 440 Million use feature phones. With the proliferation of blockchain platforms and the use of cryptocurrencies, these users are locked out of the ecosystem. We started working on Kotani Pay with these users in mind.

What it does

KotaniPay is a middleware technology service that serves as an on-ramp and off-ramp solution that utilizes USSD service. This means that it does not require internet connection, and does not require an application on the user's phone. With cellular connection only, we enable users to dial in and buy or sell ICX with ease, with all details of the transactions being recorded on the blockchain. The simplicity of the solution is that it does away with the need for the user to interact with the complex private and public keys. These are created automatically by the system and are tied to the users phone number. The user only has to use their own Personal Identity Number (PIN) as they otherwise would in using a feature phone.

How I built it

We built Kotani Pay was build using Javascript for the UI, and utilizes APIs to interface with the smartcontracts on the ICON network and the Oracles for price discovery.

Challenges I ran into

We had very few sample smart contracts to work with for a basis for our work. We also struggled to get documentation for the ICON SCORE. Additionally, ICON uses Python for its runtime environment. This is fairly unique in the backdrop of the smart contract ecosystem.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

Our goal with Kotani Pay is to have a blockchain agnostic solution. Our focus is on the African continent, and we aim to increase accessibility and the ease of use of cryprocurrency and other blockchain solutions. We are proud to have intergrated the solution with M-Pesa, the most widely used payment system in East Africa.

What I learned

This process has taught us patience and persistence. Having to intergrate various systems written in different languages and for different purposes required creativity and the patience to try many possible work-arounds. Being able to make this submission in itself, has been an achievement.

What's next for Kotani Pay

Kotani Pay intends to go on to create a decentralized onramp/offramp. Instead of relying on the traditional banking service, we use an agency model where anyone can provide fiat liquidity using their Mpesa balance. In return the users will earn settlement fees and a fraction of the Governance token that will be minted daily and shared amongst all the liquidity providers.

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