The INFITX team attended the Mojaloop Foundations PI-20 Community Meeting in Zanzibar from 24 – 28 October 2022. They joined a large group of fellow community members to share and explore the way forward for the opensource financial services product.
In this blog Jane Stroucken of INFITX discusses the recent Mojaloop Community meeting held in Zanzibar and the impact these events have on a community driven organisation.
What is a Community event?
An open-source product is developed and supported by a community that is by its very nature tenuous and reliant on the support and goodwill of interested parties. A Community meeting is the essential glue that helps keep the Community together and aligned on the work being done and plans for the future of the product. In this instance the Community is also held together by the Mojaloop Foundation which is a guiding and controlling instrument for the Community at large.
Why is it different from a Festival or Conference?
Members of this Community pay their own way to attend but do not pay a participation or enrollment fee for the event. Whilst there may be a non-Community member as a keynote or guest speaker most of the sessions are delivered by individuals or groups showcasing different aspects of their work on the Product. In order for this to happen regularly there needs to be real interest, belief and sound foundations for the continued survival of the Product and the Community.
Mojaloop Community Meeting Oct 2022
This Community meeting was the second post-Covid in-person meeting and the first that I attended. Previously all meetings were held on zoom and whilst this was very successful as people adapted to life in lock-down nothing replaces seeing your colleagues face-to-face and meeting up with and chatting to faces you have only ever seen on a zoom call. This meeting had the added benefit of some new innovations and structures that added huge value to the entire 4 day event.
Bringing new blood into an organisation also makes a huge difference and that new vision and insight was instrumental in the success of this Community meeting. Steve Haley as the Director of Market Development and Partnerships was able to provide vision and insight to the structure of the daily activities that meant a streamlined and clearly digestible format that took everyone logically through a progression of requirements, experiences and considerations on the business and technical related issues and work done. His colleague Desire Khanchje with deep Tanzanian experience, connection and knowledge was able to set up an excellent real-life experience of how the Tanzanian Instant Payment System (TIPS) works and impacts people in the marketplace of Stonetown, Zanzibar. Paul Makin, the Product Manage for Mojaloop, guided the usually difficult product planning day with a well devised set of pillars and a prioritised deliverable list the community could help to develop and expand on for delivery in the next period. All of this offered valuable support to the Community Manager, Simeon Oriko making it possible for him to focus across the entire event and give time to the Community members individually. A shared effort in the true spirit of Community.
Why does it work well and who benefits?
This approach worked so well in Zanzibar as it gave particularly newcomers, of which there were many, a clear consolidated view of the journey through the work being done. A business focus day developed through business aspects of Mojaloop deployment to lessons learned through multiple deployments and finally an appeal to assist in developing a guide for future adopters. Then specific new focus points highlighted the need for ISO20022 and Cross Border to Bulk Payments and in some instances showcasing progress that has been made. Creating a user-friendly Infrastructure as Code deployment as well as an on-prem solution for environments that are cloud ‘shy’ was a highlight as was the showcasing of a mini-loop that will be deployable in demo situations giving easy and reliable capability. The Community has put a big effort into keeping this momentum going and structuring the Community Meeting in this way made it easy to associate the different contributions and realise value being shown.
What can still be improved?
In the future, I look forward to sharing in the continuing maturation of this journey that began in Zanzibar. As the principle of the pillars of delivery embeds and becomes a natural part of the acceptance of activities the streamlining of progress will hopefully make the advances in this opensource product meaningful to the Community and productive for all users. There is still work to be done in refining the way in which community decisions are made and new work agreed, tracked, and measured. I am confident that with the new energy brought about by in person meetings and leadership additions to the Foundation that give direction and focus the trajectory is only upward.
One of the challenges with a growing community is the inability of all members to travel and attend the sessions in person. Tools that are part of our every working world have made it possible for remote participation, which is beneficial on many levels however, if this is used for a member of a panel discussion it is not successful. From the moderator perspective it is very difficult to keep the remote panellist as engaged and part of the conversation as those in the room. This aspect will need to be thought through carefully for future Meetings if the hybrid approach is going to be continued.
Who helps make it better?
As I stated at the beginning a Community Meeting is all about and for the members of an opensource group who give of their expertise, time and energy to further a cause for good (sometimes referred to as Digital Public Good) and it is these individuals who keep the product and the Community thriving. It is also the Community that will make the necessary adjustments to address those things that did not work so well or are still in need of further maturing and keep on making this very healthy Mojaloop Community a success.
To wrap up, the INFITX team had an extremely successful and enjoyable trip to Zanzibar and the Mojaloop Foundation hosted their most successful event – the PI-20 Community Meeting in Oct 2022. Congratulations to Paula Hunter and her team, may you continue to grow. INFITX will as always be actively working to keep this Community and product healthy and growing and we look forward to the next gathering – see you there!