mkey by Finserve is a Mobile Money Wallet built into a Keyboard App

mkey is trying to do everything at once. And it is messy.

Too Much at Once:

You’ve definitely heard of WeChat, the app where you can do almost everything. WeChat is China’s Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Mobile Money, Banking, Shopping, dating, blogging, and much more all in one app. End of last year, WeChat went ahead and introduced a digital ID feature where the ID you create on the app can be used in airports, government offices, everywhere as official documentation.

Finserve Limited happens to be the fintech subsidiary of Equity Group Holdings. And yesterday, they introduced what they’re calling “the most groundbreaking keyboard out of Africa”.

They had been teasing through Twitter that they had the next big thing. And I had enabled notifications to every tweet because I didn’t want to miss the announcement. I was confused upon realising it was a keyboard app. Who makes a keyboard app and hypes it that way? But immediately I heard it was more than a keyboard app, I became interested. You can send money directly to anyone from the keyboard… Well, I was sold. Until I downloaded the app.

If you used WhatsApp you know it has been a long time coming to have all the features we currently enjoy on the app. I started using WhatsApp back before smartphones were everywhere. From the Nokia Symbian platform. And all I knew the app could do was send messages over the internet. They went on to introduce pictures, videos, and then voice calling, then video chat, revamped statuses, introduced WhatsApp Business, then introduced Group Video calling (which I’ve tested and is amazing).

From that bad history of WhatsApp you can see that it has been a progressive growth. And I am willing to bet, everything the company has introduced has been as a result of research into what the consumers would love to have.

Here is where I have a problem with mkey from Finserve. This is what you get when you finish setting up your new keyboard:

mkey Keyboard App Kenya

There’s so much going on from the onset. There’s buying airtime, there’s loans, there’s themes, online shopping, gossip, YouTube, News, weather. And worse of all, there are banners. You’re there wondering about your new keyboard app and this is what you get.

Having everything at once can be a good thing. But in this case it makes no sense. Some features don’t even work. The online shop section is a single page. YouTube on a keyboard app seriously? The News, Gossip sections, why?

It would be more innovative to push one product, see its uptake, then slowly, backed with data collected from users, introduce new features. I know it sounds so innovative when you say, this keyboard app allows you to do everything, but when you interact with the app and find things thrown everywhere, that puts you off.

Have the Finserve directors and staff tried using the app? Is it the default keyboard on their devices? If so, did they realise before launch it doesn’t work on many phones. A couple of friends wanted to install and it refused to launch on an OPPO, a Xiaomi, an Infinix.

Another Wallet:

Back in June, Finserve announced it was targeting over 500 developers, and 2000 SMEs to take advantage of its APIs. I wish they’d made a cool app that made use of the many APIs available.

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A keyboard app with mobile money inbuilt ideally could be revolutionary. Because it means you can send money to anyone from any app while chatting with them or while commenting on their picture on Instagram.

But what Finserve have given us isn’t revolutionary in any way. It is another digital wallet where you have to send your own money to the app to start using it. It makes no sense to create another wallet for myself so as to pay bills and buy airtime. Why send money to an app, then send it back to my phone number when I need to use it? Why incur charges to move money from M-Pesa (a wallet) to another wallet?

What would make sense to me was if the app was linked directly to my bank account or if it directly interacted with my M-Pesa account (API huh?) so I didn’t have to move money in anyway. Bridges.

YetuMoji

Yetumoji

The keyboard as a standalone thing sucks. It is small, the font used is bad, I couldn’t find predictive texting, there’s no swiping to type. If you love your current keyboard, this one will annoy you. I have hit the wrong keys a couple of times. Sometimes it types in CAPS and I don’t know why or how it had changed.

But there’s YetuMoji which is really good, and exciting. Having our own local emoji based on local phrases and memes! I wish YetuMoji was either a standalone app, or a plugin that integrates with any keyboard, or maybe (I don’t know how this works) be added to Unicode Emoji where it can be accessible worldwide.

Perhaps the best thing about mkey for me is YetuMoji. Because here is something that’s unique and could be used by many people across the board. However, that it is only accessible on this particular terrible keyboard makes no sense, and limits it.

Confused product?

I can’t help but ask myself if there was proper thought made into creating mkey. And I am not just hating:

  • One: the keyboard as a standalone product sucks.
  • Two: Mobile Money that’s basically a new digital wallet
  • Three: too much at once from gossip, YouTube, online shopping
  • Four: YetuMoji which could do better as a standalone product

Why not build a standalone app for the wallet? Because to access the wallet, the keyboard MUST be enabled. What if I want to stick with my Gboard Keyboard? Or why not build a really good keyboard to make me switch? A keyboard that includes the must-have functionality… plus mobile money.

I love the idea. But the implementation is either hurried or ill-researched. I don’t think the Finserve team have sat down and tried to use the product themselves. But I may be speaking from my perspective as a tech enthusiast who wants things my way, and that may be clouding my vision. Try out mkey keyboard and tell me your thoughts.

What I am sure, however, is I am not signing up for another digital wallet where I have to keep transferring money back and forth to access a service. If I want to pay bills, I can and should be able to do that directly from my bank account or my mobile phone number.

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