ChamaPesa is a blockchain savings app for savings group set to officially launch in the last quarter of 2018.
ChamaPesa stems from one man’s journey to Kenya to see the workings of MPESA but discovered chamas leading to the creation of ChamaPesa. Ian Grigg alongside Ken Griffith and two Kenyan developers Lee Mungai and Julius Sekah, created the original version of ChamaPesa.
ChamaPesa is a Swahili word meaning group money as chama is the word for a savings group whilst Pesa is money in East Africa.
“ChamaPesa is not only for Africa though, savings groups are a global phenomenon. People in Africa, Latin America, China and India form little groups to save, borrow and invest together. This we believe is the decentralized answer to the problems with the financial system,” said Ken Griffith, Founder ChamaPesa.
The ChamaPesa app allows you to create a profile and join or create a chama. Chama members have the option to open accounts in different contracts or other instruments. ChamaPesa has to work with private and public keys in the blockchain technology but more importantly through the use of a smartphone.The first two accounts of a member are for shares and local currency, Kenya being the Kenya shilling. Consequently, you can move money between accounts and use it for various purposes.
According to media reports,the ChamaPesa app also ensures transparency within a chama. That means that members can view the treasurer’s account including information regarding spent money. In the future, a type of contract will be added to the app to enable an automatic “merry-go-round” chama. As a result, this feature will allow all chama members to directly send money via their mobile phones to the member who is supposed to receive it that month.
ChamaPesa is presently “in alpha testing” which means features are still being developed and hand-picked chamas are using the app and providing feedback to the development team who are polishing up the app’s features in order to make it usable by regular chamas through the feedback.
As a safety precaution ChamaPesa is using a distributed app (DApp) that enables the distribution of chama information on a blockchain. So if a chama member loses their phone, they can easily recover their information through a secret passphrase. Additionally, the advantage of using a Distributed app means that no centralized server or company is keeping the chama money. Instead, the chamas create a decentralized distributed Kenya Shilling.
“In the near future, the banks will not like it, because ChamaPesa will be providing a platform the banks still can’t be able to give,” said Eva Stowe, ChamaPesa Architect.
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