Scan, Pay and Go: Varsity students develop app to automate business catalogues, make contactless payments

Purity Ochieng - Communications & Marketing | 03 March, 2021

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Since time immemorial, many businesses have been using physical catalogues to inform potential clients what range of products they offer. Restaurants have hugely relied on pieces of printed papers as menu, while supermarkets have price stickers displayed all over the shelves, this retrogressive culture in this digital era has motivated a team of five innovation enthusiasts from Kenyatta University to develop an app to automate the catalogues.

The QR code-inspired technology dubbed the ScanPal is a mobile app solution for transactions and checkouts between customers and businesses. The application enhances the way people access, shop and pay for goods and services.

Sample page from the ScanPal app

Users access goods and services from businesses, restaurants and SMEs by scanning product QR codes as a way of making payment transactions easier. Once scanned, the app populates with the product from the business, or the menu from the restaurant, allowing users to search and select a desired product and pay for it on the app via existing payment gateways.

Our journey has been very interesting, one day we had a long trek from Industrial area to the CBD. Feeling tired and hungry, we went into a supermarket along Tom Mboya Street to buy bottles of soda, unfortunately, we found a very long queue prompting us to walk out and purchase the drinks from the nearby street vendor.

“We then thought of how to come up with a self-checkout app that requires no human interaction within the business setup,” the startup cofounder, Derrick Ochieng says, adding that they had to learn programing since none of them knew how to code.

The second year student however states that balancing classwork and business is a tedious work but what has kept them moving is the passion of innovation.

It is very difficult to find people who believe in you, and in what you do. I have had passion for innovation since I was in form three and though finding the right balance between class and business can be challenging, it is a sacrifice we have to make,” Ochieng says.

The team is confident of breaking into the national limelight but admits that operating a startup is very challenging since there is no money upfront and they sometimes have to engage in other side hustles, or even go deep into their pockets to sustain the startup.

The app is unique from the other QR code scanners as it is has a simple user interface, free for end users, charges only business enterprises based on sales made via the app, has diverse payment options, notifies all the departments within the business service chain - food and beverage department, the finance and management, and enables the management to track analytics on their dashboard.

Currently incubated at the Chandaria Business Innovation and Incubation Center, the startup is envisaging being able to handle half of the contactless payments made across Africa in five years’ time.

The app is presently available for the android users but we are working on the other versions. We are also looking to partner with telco companies to be able to integrate as many payment options into the app as possible,” Says co-founder, Clinton Sang.