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Thrive is set up by Funding London, a venture capital company bridging the finance gap for early stage businesses based in London. With over a decade’s experience in supporting the startups of London through a variety of funding vehicles, Funding London sensed a need to illuminate the ever-evolving scenario of London’s early stage businesses.

Thrive features interviews with and opinion from budding entrepreneurs, investors and industry experts. A mix of contributors from all areas of the industry is desired in order to spark genuine discussion about ongoing critical issues. While it showcases the effectiveness of successful ventures, it also encourages sharing lessons learned from missteps and unsuccessful projects.

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Trends · 1 June '21

Reaching new markets through airtime top-ups and transfers

Not everyone in the world has access to bank accounts, in fact, for emerging markets across huge swathes of the planet, logging into internet banking or even nipping to a local branch, is just not doable. But, these markets are huge potential growth markets for digital goods and services. Enabling smooth bank-like services through mobile apps and websites, to markets which are fast connecting through booming smartphone adoption, will be key to expanding your reach.

There are numerous solutions, but linking up with Airtime Services through simple tools is fast emerging as the easiest point of entry, connecting to the most people without reinventing the wheel at home.

Airtime transfers made easy

Enabling a plug-and-play service for customers to transfer airtime in bulk – a truly tradeable currency, to and from anywhere in the world, in different currencies seamlessly, used to be “mission mostly impossible.”

But top-up software like the airtime API changed all of that. Today, advancements of software in the telecoms space have revolutionized how airtime top-ups, data bundles, and digital goods can be sent.

Top up software provides developers in businesses as varied as cryptocurrency, remittances, fintech, NGOs, rewards and incentives, and e-commerce with an innovative opportunity to create new services that better enable top-ups to billions of mobile phones.

In prepaid-dominated markets in the emerging world, the airtime API has especially become a potent tool for businesses that are searching for new ways to reach customers.

All of a sudden, businesses can now drastically change how mobile customers interact with online telecom services in some of the most remote places on the planet. Reaching the previously unreachable with technology solutions that can legitimately change lives. This power is democratizing and impacts us all.

However, many current airtime API vendors on the market don’t make airtime solutions easy to use, deploy, or customize. They create:

  • Complex coding that weighs down your site
  • A lack of admin transparency over top-up distribution and commissions
  • Bottlenecks resulting from slow technical support
  • Cookie-cutter results that lack the ability for customization
  • Expensive contracts

Basically, the market has been lacking a plug-and-play solution that allows businesses to fit virtual airtime distribution solutions to their needs, without the hassle of contracts and poor customer service.

The circumstance-de-jour led me to launch the world’s first platform dedicated to airtime top-up software.

As CEO of Reloadly, I created the company with the mission of providing software by developers for developers, and of all ranks. Technology in the space has been constantly evolving, and now there are tools made for whatever level of programming skills your team has — from zero knowledge to professional coders.

However, no matter the level of developer, these tools equally aim to take the complexity out of coding, making the integration of an international airtime transfer service a plug-and-play experience for businesses large and small.

Currently, there are several tools you and your team should learn about when it comes to building an international airtime transfer service, namely:

  1. Airtime API
  2. Airtime SDK (Java)
  3. Airtime Widget (Or WordPress Plugin)

Each one of these above tools is distinct and can serve different use cases for your business.

Some tools are also better suited for certain industries, while others (such as the SDK and white label solution) offer developer teams more potential to completely customize the service to fit their business.

These tools are also built with pre-installed integrations to popular payment infrastructures, such as Stripe and PayPal, allowing businesses to launch and manage the entire airtime transfer service through one portal.

1. Airtime API

The airtime API is the mainstay of the international airtime transfer service industry today.

Airtime API enables developer teams to easily integrate mobile airtime top-up services directly into websites or apps using a library of codes that programmers will already be familiar with. This allows a team to continue building the products and services they want, whilst someone else handles the background tech – APIs are changing the world on so many levels.

As a software interface for interacting with other related services in the telecom and fintech industries, an airtime API crucially provides consistent coding in stable environments that allow for easily replicable functions.

2. Airtime SDK (Java)

While an airtime API offers an interface for airtime services to interact with related services in the telecom and fintech industries, an SDK — or Software Developer Kit — allows maximum customization.

The common analogy goes that APIs are building blocks, while an SDK is the entire workshop.

Much like an airtime API, an SDK provides a set of tools, developer libraries, relevant documentation, code samples and more. However, SDKs are the origination source for APIs — as well as most other programs that exist on the internet today.

Ours, for example, offers several modules, such as Authentication and Airtime programs.

Developers can also add dependencies for specific services that are unique to their business, essentially developing unique programs using proprietary technology.

3. Airtime Widget (Or WordPress Plugin)

On the opposite side of the developer skill spectrum from the SDK is the humble airtime widget, also called an airtime plugin in WordPress.

An airtime widget is the simplest tool available for integrating an international airtime transfer service into your business. In essence, an airtime widget is an easy-to-use software application or component made for one or more different platforms.

Unlike the other tools in our toolkit, no code or software development is required for integrating an airtime widget.

It provides WordPress site owners (or users of other CMS platforms) the opportunity to easily install mobile top-up transfer services into their online business.

Final thoughts

Airtime top-up software has the ability to catalyze innovation in numerous industries, especially businesses operating in markets such as Latin America and Africa.

In these regions, advancing API technology will drive the revolution. Unique features such as airtime e-wallets are now answering the public’s demand to use airtime as a storage of value. In volatile economies, for example, recipients of aid money from NGOs will increasingly prefer airtime over local currency payments.