Why Jonathan Gikabu’s story against Safaricom’s MPesa1Tap doesn’t add up for me

First things first: I am writing this reply because Tech-ish.com is actually mentioned in the case as being the source of news from which Jonathan read of Safaricom’s MPesa 1Tap. The post he read is this post over here: https://tech-ish.com/2017/05/04/safaricom-nfc-lipa-na-mpesa/ 

I just learnt of Jonathan’s story from this post by Cnyakundi. Reading it, I found tech-ish.com somewhere and well…

Okay, if there’s one thing I learnt (and that really irks me) from the many entrepreneurial classes and conferences I have attended is that no idea is new. Quite weird, but true.

The first time we heard about Safaricom’s NFC cards was way back on 14th March 2014 from TechMoran. It was a developing story and details were scanty. Here’s the post: https://techmoran.com/developing-story-kenyas-safaricom-to-deploy-nfc-sim-cards-countrywide-disrupt-mobile-payments/

From Jonathan’s story, he first (quoting verbatim) worked on the building blocks of this idea back in September 2014. For that reason only, I think the claim by CNyakundi.com that the idea was robbed from the young Kenyan should be invalidated.

Also, note that Tech-ish.com and many other websites have wrote about NFC based cards from Safaricom for quite a while. For example in July 2016, there was the announcement of Safaricom’s test phase – here.  I think such a matter as serious as Jonathan’s would have been raised earlier before launch.

If you are into startups, and have attended any pitch sessions or competitions for funding, or acceleration, you most definitely have been asked questions like: “Your idea aside, why should I invest in you?”. Or if you are a team, “I want to invest in you, kick someone out.” Or even, “This isn’t new tech, why should we have you?”. They are annoying questions and many times I have pitched and got such responses I leave the room angry. People invest in people and not just in ideas, is something I’ve learnt to keep in mind.

Anyway, NFC isn’t new technology and it dates back to as far as 1983, though in 2002 Philips and Sony established specifications and created an outline we use.

I think Jonathan really might have had a good idea and might have met with many people as he says and signed NDAs as any one with an idea is advised to. But I doubt, from the dates that anyone stole or robbed him of the idea.


Also funny that I just a few hours ago published a post talking of Safaricom’s roll out of 1Tap to more cities which I titled: M-Pesa 1Tap: Safaricom’s quest to change how we pay