Please Feel Free to Bribe Me

Earlier this year, I was asked to quote the government of an African country for a large data project. They were trying to establish an electronic record keeping system and method of fee payments. I was unfortunately not able to assemble the needed people at the time. Nevertheless, the project had several interesting components.

The first component was to gather birth, death, marriage, divorce records and assemble them in a searchable electronic data base. Many of these records were paper documents.

The next step was to perform interviews to establish historical records since some of the important records were less than 50 years old. This step felt very noble by accurately recording the history of the country.

The final step was to create a method of payment for standard fees such as passport fees, marriage certificates, property taxes, income tax and others.

What was exciting about this? When cash is used to pay fees, the cash payment can be required to have a “little extra added” for the effort required by the performing party. These face to face transactions are fertile ground for a bribe. This can be especially true for local and state/province payments.

When mobile money/electronic transfer are used for payment of fees, bribery, graft and corruption are diminished. The amount of the fee is clearly stated, a faceless transaction occurs and money is taken from the account. Any “extra fee” would become a matter of record and very difficult for the requesting party to get their hands on. The fees are in the system with a paper trail. Mobile money/electronic transfer of funds reduce all but systemic corruption at the national level.

This transparency in mobile money/electronic transfer is a benefit that is rarely discussed. Paying electronically reduces each payment to a transaction number processed by a computer program for a set amount with a clear trail. It is very difficult to get extra hands into the transaction. A $40 fee becomes and remains a $40 fee. Resulting paperwork and confirmation number are generated without human intervention or interference.

As Africa pushes towards electronic filing for government payments using mobile money/electronic transfer, corruption will be reduced. The government will exhibit transparency. Fewer and fewer people will be standing in front of you with outstretched hand saying, “Please feel free to bribe me.”

Let me know your thoughts. You can read other snippets from me on LinkedIn, More to come…

About the author: Have you ever used a cigarette lighter charger for your cell phone? Have you ever used your cell phone to read a bar code? Have you ever heard of a cop camera? Robert Belt introduced those technologies and has been involved in business development/new product introduction for over 30 years. Recent projects have included product introductions in wireless communication/telecom, beauty/fashion industry, automotive industry, consumer electronics and power management technology. Contact information or other snippets can be found on LinkedIn,