How app development works in developing countries

I've been travelling through Nepal for a while now and i must say this has been an enhancing experience that has broaden my vision in the app development market. Watching the way Nepali startup companies adapt to the market habits has made me think outside of the box in UI / UX design. This is why i've compiled this small list of some examples of Nepali companies that have learned to thrive in a very harsh environment.



Tootle is a smart example of what i'm talking about for sharing motorbike rides.  In Kathmandu city for example, i'd dare to say only 60% of the roads are properly paved. And it's not only about that. Streets and roads are not properly indicated (many of the streets have no name) and driving a taxi is not entirely the same as riding a motorbike


Tootle sharing

Tootle had to adapt it's user interface as well as the way the users interacted with the app in order to make it easier for their main target (Riders) to use their platform and win some money.


Further inconveniences also include how generally, women feel insecure in the streets or when using this service in their culture and tradition. They took this into consideration and included an sms tracking fantastic feature to get the app to feel more secure.


Furthermore, Nepal does not allow for people to have internet bank accounts of apps such as Paypal or Stripe. The government doesn't put it very easy for internet business to thrive with micropayments and microtransactions.

The way they sorted this out was to also allow for payment in cash as well as a wallet that they can top up using bank transfers or with phone credit. They adapted their business model in cash collection to allow for a bigger audience that could use the app without registering any account for online payment. This sort of feature enables them to collect cash from the riders that act as middle men between them and their platform. They also allowed for payments to be made via eSewa, a popular online payment app in Nepal, more about that in a minute



When it comes to payment systems in Nepal, eSewa is the main option to take into account. In a country with such restrictive impositions on technological payment methods they have learned to thrive by adapting their income collection using more traditional methods.


e sewa payments

If there is something i've seen all over Kathmandu are posters of shops with a big eSewa brand indicating that the owner accepts esewa payments. The company has made a really big effort to allow for any Nepali to basically own an online account. The validation process asks you for a valid ID card or passport and it generally validation takes less than 24 hours . And they are almost everywhere.


Topping up is very comfortable, since you can use regular phone credit as well as prepayment cards that are sold in regular kiosks. From there on, you can use the platform to pay friends and family as well as other business that may use the platform.


Another very interesting thing is how they partnered up with the main companies for service providing in Nepal, so they allow for an easy online process to pay for electricity bills, phone bills, water bills etc. Even the government owned telecom uses this system due to how popular it is.



Are you feeling hungry? Foodmandu is the app for you. Foodmandu has created a network of drivers that drive through the streets of Kathmandu picking up the food and bringing it to your door. Again, in a country where most of the streets don't have name or number, you can imagine how this app relies heavily on GPS and phone calls to allow for their riders to deliver their food in a reasonable time.



Again, allowing for in cash payments is a great advantage, since this allows for pretty much anyone with a cellphone and an internet connection to order food online right at their door step. The app heavily relies on this sort of communication between customer and rider to allow for the food to arrive to the correct destination. Foodmandu then adds a charge for the transport and you get it delivered and pay for it.

Again, allowing for an in cash payment system also includes a broader need for cash control and collection. The risk for human error is also significantly higher and human resources will be required to organize the cash flow as the company grows. However, they have managed to have a broader user base and significantly reduced development costs. This is a great example of implementing an MVP into an untested market to develop the most important functionalities first.

In conclusion, I feel there is much to learn. Adapting a business model based on the user consumer habits is crucial to the success of any app project. Some clients ask me for consultancy regarding app online projects for tourists, in areas where most of the tourists didn't have access to internet connection. Analyzing the requirements of your app is the most important process that will allow your company to figure out the most important things to develop and how to get them developed.

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