A young team in the UK has come up with a neat way of creating a social application to help people keep their promises - for instance, keeping up-to-date with their coursework.
Without getting into the details of what they're up to, they believe that small, pre-agreed cash fines are the right 'stick,' and research has suggested that this has to be instant. Their users are willing to volunteer to be fined, but experiments where they've simply been told what they 'owe' haven't worked.
The obvious solution is some kind of mobile payment.
Their website already captures email addresses and mobile numbers, and they are using text messages and email to track progress and report problems (e.g. if I see you out when you said you were working, I can report you and you'll get a text).
To be clear, they don't have, and aren't planning, a mobile app. The solutions they've come up with so far seem pretty good, but they have (for them) high monthly charges. They need the lowest possible recurring cost, even if this means a high per-transaction fee.
The solution needs to work in the UK, and allow pre-pay mobile users to pay a small fee (<£5) - either simply as a fine or as a payment for some virtual goods such as an image, an audio or video file. It has to be possible to trigger this with nothing but a mobile phone number, leading to a simple automated process that could include an exchange of text messages. For instance,
- The payment could be triggered by replying to the message
- Or by clicking a link in the message (without depending on smartphone quality browsing)
- Or the initial service set-up could include some kind of opt-in, so that 'fines' would be fully automated
The team aren't concerned to make money - they consider themselves a 'social enterprise' helping people to help themselves. But they will need at least to cover external costs for a payment service, even at low initial usage volumes.
What providers would you recommend?