Our innovation will get rid of queues in banks

Tuesday October 4 2016

Blue River Technology’s Patrick Tendwa (left)

Blue River Technology’s Patrick Tendwa (left) and Augustine Khafafa explain how the Intelligent Cash Deposit Machine works. BERNADINE MUTANU/ NATION  

By BERNARDINE MUTANU, [email protected]

A visit to most banking halls in Kenya leaves you exhausted as you are forced to queue for a long time before being served.
Some customers take a lot of time at the counter as they are handling large transactions.

This is what motivated a group of three Kenyan technology enthusiasts to seek to revolutionise banking services and general how money is handled in the retail sectors.

The three, Augustine Khafafa, Patrick Tendwa and Jones Mireri, have introduced Intelligent Cash Deposit Machine, which also increases efficiency in business operations and tames pilferage as well as fraud by over 90 per cent.

Their aim is to make banking convenient and efficient. But supermarkets and retail outlets owners like gas stations, casinos amusement parks and even hospitals and institutions which deal with large sums of money will find the technology useful.

With this technology, there is no fear of losing money through fraud and theft, said Mr Khafafa, the director for technology at their firm, Blue River Technology Solutions Ltd.

The gadget was piloted and adopted by the Tuskys Supermarket. It was so successful the supermarket is in the process of installing the machine in its 54 branches across the country.

The machines are made by GRG Banking, a Chinese Company. Apart from being the agent of GRG in Kenya, Blue River is tasked with coming up with a software to run the machines.

“Tuskys loses about Sh2 million on average every month in theft at cashier points or robberies,” said Tuskys Supermarket chief finance officer Mr Daniel Ndirangu, noting that with the new machine, this figure is expected to be reduced significantly, and even go to zero.

The technology reduces pilferage as the process of handling money is reduced. Cashiers deposit the money directly into the machine.
“Money usually gets lost in the many channels between the cashier and the bank. Most of these channels have been reduced as money received is deposited directly into the machine by the cashier,” said Mr Tendwa, Operations and Support Director at the Blue River Technology firm which is based on Jogoo Road, Nairobi.

Normal banking transactions

“It is purely cash deposit whereby money deposited is directly reflected in the entrepreneur’s business account and can be accessed instantly,”
The machine, which costs between Sh2 millions and Sh3 million depending on the size, saves cashiers a lot of time that would have been spent on counting the cash and later taking them to the backroom.

In the normal banking transactions, the cashier receives cash, counts it and hands it over to chief cashier, who takes the money to a safe in the back office. The safe is then picked, probably the following day, by a cash-in-transit company to the bank where the money is counted, yet again. With the new machine, this process has been largely trimmed.

“The machine counts the cash and issues a receipt. The money is banked immediately it is deposited into the machine,” said Mr Khafafa, adding that the deposit machine is linked to customers’ accounts.

In addition, business owners can also monitor cashiers and workflow from anywhere in the world in real time using the integrated system through a web portal. Every teller has a user identity, making it possible for a retailer to trace lost cash.

Mr Jones Mireri, the business system analyst at Blue River Technologies, says the machine also sorts notes into various denominations.

An perhaps what is certain to catch the attention of industries is that the machine detects fake notes and separates them from the genuine notes. This becomes a key invention taking into account the fact many criminals have been nabbed making fake money.

The tech firm was started in 2011. After working for several financial institutions, the three entrepreneurs felt that time was ripe for them to start their own venture. Together they had amassed a wealth of knowledge and experience especially from the banking sector. This came handy in setting the firm.

The cash machine is not the first invention by the entrepreneurs. In 2005, they came up with the PesaPoint automated teller machines.

“We could not actualize our dreams while in employment, that is why we had to move out and form the venture in addition to the fact that we had a passion to take technology in Kenya to the next level,” said Khafafa adding that their aim is to revolutionise the financial sector by using technology.
They have worked with or consulted for major commercial banks including Standard Chartered and the Cooperative Bank.