Mobile Technologies

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An information system was set to automate account opening of savings plan policy for CIC insurance. There was a dire need to investigate why a mobile banking system dubbed Mpesa does not have an option of saving money within its services. An outcome for this was that Mpesa services was designed to be a money transfer mobile system and not for saving money. Moreover, Safaricom is not licensed to receive deposits from the public and to keep it. These licenses are only provided to financial institutions but Safaricom is a service provider. This prompted asking the question, why is Mpesa called a money transfer system but in real sense many people use it to keep their money?.Safaricom has not advertised to keep money for its customers in their respective accounts because in doing so it will be overdoing the limitation of their license as a service provide.

In order for one to save any amount in their Mpesa account Safaricom has to partner with a financial or insurance institution. The logic here is Safaricom will on facilitate the transfer of the money and the institution will keep the money for their customers which in this case is paid through Mpesa to the different institutions.

While this regulations are still in place, Mpesa customers still keep their money in their respective accounts. But the question arises; one would like to keep their money in a place that will accrue interests after a certain period. This where CIC insurance came in. The company will offer a policy that will allow its users to pay for the premiums via Mpesa.

The system will allow online policy accounts opening, use sample Mpesa database to demonstrate the idea of paying premiums through the system and notifications will be made through SMS.

On completion of this proposed CIC save plan system, it should be able to meet the following objectives;

Project Objectives Create a better understanding of the development tools used by the developer. To deliver a comprehensive documentation for the system. This will facilitate a better understanding of the system. To apply the set of technical skills acquired in various units. To investigate the problems encountered in opening of savings plan policy accounts. Develop a system that allows new customers to open accounts online and demonstrate the idea of making payments through.

System Objectives

Design database that will hold customer details and keep records

Develop a system that allows new customers to open savings plan policy accounts online. Ensure easier generation of reports that facilitates proper decision making by the managers. Develop login module for customers, department staff and administrators Allow customers to view the amount they have saved with the company. Investigate and make a prototype of allow registered user to make payments by interfacing a sample Mpesa database. Notify customers through SMS when they register, pay premiums and when their accounts are approved by the administrator. Develop reports generation functionality for administrators and departmental staff of the company. Develop a logic where newly registered accounts to be inactive until department head approves them. Assign different users different user levels with varying responsibilities.

The scope of the project is to devise a new way in which CIC savings plan policy holders can pay for the policy through Mpesa services by interfacing a sample Mpesa database, new users can open saving plan accounts online and start contributing. The system will be a web based application which will interface a sample Mpesa database to demonstrate the idea.

Personal details of customers and transactions will be maintained in a relational database and notifications of will be made by SMS. The company goal is to be ranked among the top six high performing insurance companies in Kenya and to be the leader in providing insurance services and innovation, this new service would put them at the top of insurance companies with the best services in Kenya.

The following are the various components to be incorporated in this system: Customer registration and opening of Savings plan accounts Database to capture of customer details Logins for customer, department staff and administrators. SMS module Sample payment by Mpesa for making payment for policy premiums. User-friendly interface

Project Priorities

The project will provide a critical application to the growing organization, providing administration support. The highest priority is to develop a product that meets all of the user’s requirements. This is followed closely by delivery of the system on the date planned. The third priority is an application that is flexible in allowing for future expansion. This is due to the rapid increase in area of business and new policies being introduced by the company.

A project methodology encompasses the approach that is to be taken when designing a software project. It consists of the tools that will be used in the development of the project and the platform over which the software will be produced (James, 1989). The following highlights are the main areas of the development methodology that will be followed in developing the project.

In this system, iterative waterfall system which builds each step of work that was prescribed in the previous steps with no deviation from the model will be applied. (Dennis, 2002).Waterfall is an integrated set of standards and guidelines for the analysis and design of computer systems and consists of structural standards, technique guides, and documentation standards. Therefore in development of the system, the developer broke down the steps that the system had to undergo in five major phases.

This methodology will be used because of its control over projects and its ability to develop better quality systems systematically. It also ensures consistence and completion of the project. To achieve the proposed solution the waterfall model of software development shall be adhered to. In this model the development process is divided into five stages namely: Requirements Engineering, Design, Software Implementation, System Inegration and testing, Operating and Maintenance.

Waterfall methodology steps

The system was implemented using incremental waterfall methodology. It involves a sequence of incremental steps, or iterations. (Dennis, 2002).This methodology breaks down the activities that are to be done into six different steps name; Requirements, analysis, design, coding, testing and acceptance. The activities that are to be done at each step are clearly defined and steps to follow in case of any increments in requirements are defined.

Each step also has a well-defined set of objectives and the outputs of one step are the inputs of the next step

Stages and activities are well defined

Phases are arranged so that it helps even the new users or the clients to understand the “big picture” of how to go about developing the software through the software development life cycle.

Helps to plan and schedule the project

It calls for a disciplined approach to save on project time and cost as well effort.

Verification at each stage ensures early detection of errors / misunderstanding

It essentially requires documentation at every stage. This gives better understanding of the requirements, the logic of the codes and tests that were conducted on the software.

It accommodates changing requirements.

In case of increase or change of requirements there are steps to show how to add the requirements. The methodology enables modular structure which relates directly to project deliverables hence system can be delivered on time.

System Architecture

The developer chooses a 3-tier architecture whereby there are three different and independent levels of the system. (James, 1989). The first level is the presentation level which the user directly interacts with. The second is the process tier which carries out the logical processing that go in the process of placing and processing a given request. The processes include opening up of policy accounts online, approval of accounts n the idea of making payments with. The third level is the database which stores all the data that has been generated as the system is in use.

Presentation/General User Interface layer/tier

It contains all things that are visible to the user, such as the screen layout and navigation. It has the techniques like HTML CSS and images that give the user a picture of what is happening. This could be in form of error messages and generated reports.

The processing tier- This is the core of the system that links the two layers. This is where the scripts are meant to be running. They process the user‘s input and the database

The database tier manages data belonging to the application. It provides facilities to access that data, secure it, back it up and ensure integrity.

The 3-tier architecture was favored because it can be able to accommodate changes at various levels without having to change others.

The system can be transformed to use mobile browser instead of desktop browser without change to the database. The change will not affect the way the processing of the request is carried out. There is also the possibility to augment the system to have new modules without need to change other parts of the system.

System analysis of the current and proposed system

Systems design is the process of defining the architecture, components, modules, interfaces, and data for a system to satisfy specified requirements.

Technical system option

CIC Save plan system is a web-based application designed to run on a PHP/MySQL/Xampp server. The following is the software requirement for the system.

PHP 5.3.1 MySQL 2.1 Internet Explorer/Mozilla Firefox /Google chrome web browsers. Apache web server (with dynamic loading at run-time of PHP extensions)

Logical modeling

The diagrams below shows the interaction between different processes of the system, their interaction with external entities and the flow of information thought the system.

Context diagram for the proposed system

The system interacts with two enttities, that is, the customer and the management. Customer opens policy account online by interacting with the system and the management controls the accounts by approving requested accounts. The customer receives a notification that his/her account is now active together with login details for account.

DFD for the New System

In this level one diagram, level 0 was broken up into detailed processes. CIC save plan system was broken down into three processes, I.e. open Account process, and Account approval process and premium payments process. The DFD also shows what a customer and the administrator do in a glance. A data store is introduced which hold data from customers who wants Savings plan policy. There is also a data store that stores contributions records.

Description of Level 2 DFD of the New System

This level breaks down the processes into its subsequent sub processes. The opening of accounts process is divided into three sub processes which include: Customer Request, Admin approval and customer notification. Two data stores are introduced here which include requests data store and process of updating of request data store by the administrator for the accounts to be active.

The input to the account request process is an online request from the customer who feels the online forms and its output is a recorded request for the administrator and notification approval of the account. The administrator is given the right to approve the accounts to control the number of active accounts. The received request dataflow goes to approval process that activates the account and notifies the customer that his/her account is now valid and he/she can start paying premiums. This process updates the status of the account in the database.

Customer additional functionality to make more premiums is also divided into three steps. These include the customer request to make payment by clicking on make more contributions, the request being forwarded to sample database to check his/her Mpesa balance, if the transaction is valid the customers contribution is updated on the company’s database. A staff that in this case includes the administrator has been given permission to fetch records from customer databases and also from the customers’ contributions.

The final system was a web based solution implemented using various tools Adobe Dreamweaver CS4 – Integrated development environments that can be used to design the interface, write the code and test-run the system. PHP –The scripting language to used to develop the actual system. Apache web server – The tool used to run the PHP scripts which need a server to run. CSS – This is the tool the developer used to come up with a good looking user interface. MySQL – Tool used for the creation of the database which acts as the main repository for the project. MySQL work bench-A tool used to create EER diagram Microsoft Office Word 2007 –The tool used to develop the actual project report and any other document required e.g. proposal Microsoft Office Visio 2007 – The design tool used in drawing the various diagrams for documentation purposes. Client-side JavaScript and HTML and CSS – These were used for presentation of information to the user. Adobe Photoshop 8.0 – The tool to be used for the design of the project interface.

Justification for Employing a Web-Based System Compatibility – A web based system is compatible with many platforms as long as a web browser is available. Accessibility – Ease of access from nodes connected on the network. Ease of modification incase new requirements arise. Ease of isolation and recovery from error and bugs. Has great potential for high levels of interactivity.

Installation – The system need only be uploaded to a common server.

Individual modules will be tested using a true sample data. The modules is then be integrated to ensure that the complete system met the intended requirements. Testing here involves detecting and fixing errors that arose due to violation of syntax and semantic rules. Testing also verified the interoperability and runtime (efficiency) of the system to various operational environments. Various test types is too employed in the testing stage of the system development. This ensures that the system is accurate and meets the user requirements. Tests to be conducted included: unit, integration, functional, system, and performance tests. Unit Test- this is to be done on each module independently. This ensured that each module performs the intended function accurately as documented in the requirements specification and that it accepts all defined inputs and gave expected results System Test- To ensure that the entire integrated application meets user requirements. It thus tests the information flow across the whole system. Performance Test- To determine the runtime performance of the application under certain conditions i.e. measure software parameters like processing speed, response time, resource consumption, throughput to determine the efficiency.


The commencement of this project was motivated by the several defined objectives a number of which included: – To create a better understanding of the development tools used by the developer. To deliver a comprehensive documentation for the system. This will facilitate a better understanding of the system. To apply the set of technical skills acquired in various units. To investigate the problems encountered in opening of savings plan and demonstrate idea of paying with Mpesa through a sample Mpesa database

As an analyst, researcher, designer, developer and tester of the system, I admit that it has been a journey in trying to accomplish these objectives but nevertheless they were achieved. The system was not fully tested but some of the major functionalities have undergone complete re-run test by the student-developer. Most notable of them is the Account opening, Approval of requests and Making of payments and generating the various reports. This is a great step especially in terms of use of mobile technology. It is a great boost to e-commerce and would go a long way in promoting business using mobile.

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