Building a VAS solution from the bottom up doesn’t happen overnight. We take you through our approach in building Electrum’s transaction hub so your business can benefit.
There have been plenty of contributions to the build vs buy debate (we’ve even written a bit on the subject ourselves). But rather than add any more to it from a theoretical point of view, we thought we’d share our user-centric approach to building a VAS Solution.
Electrum recently completed building the third iteration of our VAS solution, which has been running for eight years since inception. For any organisation considering building their own VAS solution, we hope our example will provide a useful guide through a tricky landscape.
Building a stable, high-quality VAS solution is a complex journey, to be sure. One approach to thinking about it is to consider the various business functions involved – and then to consider the outputs each function would seek, and what sort of tools would need to be built to produce those outputs.
At the heart of the project is the point of purchase (POP), where the transactions originate, whether a till point, a mobile app or ATM. Developers in your organisation will be concerned with how to integrate POP with the VAS product. At Electrum we publish all our Open-Source APIs here for easy and rapid development.
The technical operations team will be asking how they configure and monitor services. Electrum has developed monitoring tools with interactive Kibana dashboards that allow a real-time view of transactions.
The business team will be asking to see high-level information and trends to help identify opportunities and stave off potential problems. In Electrum’s case, we’re able to provide analytics and integrations with Business Intelligence tools (eg. Power BI and Tableau) to visualise performance.
The support team will need to look up individual transactions to troubleshoot errors. To answer this need, we developed the Electrum Console that allows support staff to drill down into the details of transactions. It provides a user interface to query and view incoming and outgoing messages, and supplies various metrics about the overall status of the switch.
The Financial Operations team who do the reconciliation will be asking how they ensure that the correct amount is paid – especially when there’s a high volume of small transactions routed through multiple providers. Electrum has developed a back-office module for easy reconciliation and settlement. It also allows you to scale your finance processes as your digital goods and services business grows – it lets you onboard new settlement parties quickly, configure flexible fee structures and handle exceptions easily.
The business leadership team will be asking the really tough questions – is the VAS business profitable and meeting targets? Electrum’s fully automated system provides the financial analysis the team will need to keep an eye on things. And with the right systems in place, and support from all divisions of the business, there’s little reason to think digital goods and services wouldn’t be a win for your business – for more about the future prospects for VAS, read our report.
As the digital goods and services component of your business scales, the complexity of the systems needed to operate and support it optimally increase substantially. That’s part of the reason some of South Africa’s most successful retailers, banks and mobile network operators rely on Electrum’s cloud-based VAS platform.
If you’d like to talk about how Electrum could power your digital goods and services business, please contact us.