Shopping via Text Message
Just like a conventional e-commerce business, Slimtrader relies on interactive databases to handle product inventory, pricing, orders, and payments. But unlike, say, Amazon, it has a database that users can interact with through short message service (SMS).
“Instead of searching for products with a computer, we make it possible to query a retailer’s inventory by text message,” says founder Femi Akinde. “You are sent the results and can then buy via text as well.”
That could prove a hit in countries where shopping or paying bills means paying cash payments, and standing in a long line, he says. Slimtrader transactions draw funds from a person’s cell-phone credit or can be provided using a prepaid or conventional debit or credit card.
The startup is working with partners including Microsoft and T-Mobile. Since July, the firm has been powering e-ticket sales for the Nigerian airline Aero, which wants to reduce the cash payments that currently make up the majority of ticket sales. This month, the company that runs ferries connecting Kampala in Uganda to Mwanza in Tanzania via Lake Victoria will also start using the system, allowing users to query the timetable and book tickets via SMS.