Back in June, Safaricom announced a new App targeting businesses which use Lipa-na-M-Pesa. The app called “M-Pesa for Business” currently boasts of over 100,000 downloads. This is pretty impressive for an app that has been out for less than 6 months, and only targets just over 170,000 merchants.
The app brought in a couple of new things previously not easily accessible but much needed for businesses. The new features included realtime analytics, easier access to statements, proper tracking of money-in and money-out, easier transfers and withdrawals to customers, agents, and so much more. From the number of downloads, and the current 4.6-star rating, it seems business owners love it.
Safaricom now appears to be testing a new M-Pesa app with the same sort of approach, but this time targeting normal M-Pesa users – you and me. It is currently live on the Google Play Store, but access is seemingly limited because when I tried to sign in I was told my number is restricted. However, it seems this is an internal early-stage testing, meaning later on it will be open to public testing.
Anyway, what’s new with the upcoming M-Pesa app:
- M-Pesa Only – Unlike the mySafaricom App which wants to offer so much in one app, the M-Pesa App (just called M-Pesa actually) focuses only on the M-Pesa platform.
- Data – Like with the business app, here the focus is on the data a customer will be able to access. This includes a full statement of all recent transactions available on the homepage, your balance, and Fuliza limit, and more, all seen in one glance. There will be swipe-able cards to see monthly cash-in and cash-out, a growth tab, a discover tab, and a ‘My Spend’ tab.
- Security – Once setup with your PIN, subsequent logins will be much easier with the app relying on your phone’s biometrics – your fingerprint or face scanner – which will also be used when making payments.
- Privacy Mode – which will hide all transactions and balances when app is open in one click, so that unwanted parties don’t see your details.
- Pochi la Biashara – While this hasn’t quite taken off since announcement, the first place we may see it properly implemented is on the M-Pesa app which will have it placed under ‘Pay to Phone number‘.
- Send to many – There will be an option to send to many – which could be very helpful for people who may need to send a certain amount of money to many different people.
- Profile Pictures – Users will be able to see the profile pictures of whoever they’re sending money to. This is provided a user has signed up to the app, and set a picture.
- QR Codes – It seems Safaricom may try to once again really push QR codes to businesses so that using the app, payments will be much faster and easier.
- Offline Mode – Which will allow users to transact using the app without necessarily having a data connection.
While I don’t have the specifics to when the app will go live, I am personally excited to see how people will take it up, and if people will love the data and numbers Safaricom will be bringing to the front-end. Things like monthly spend, and daily average are very welcome. (Though of course such numbers will stress some people ?)
What I noticed from the login however is that Safaricom is still not letting users enjoy the app free of the SIM card. Meaning one will need to have the specific SIM card on the phone to use the App. I still hope for a time I will be able to use M-Pesa services without necessarily having my SIM card on the particular phone. The failed Bonga by Safaricom App (later called Zwuup!) only amazed me with that one feature.
For many people, the conversation around the new app will be why? Why install a new M-Pesa app when there’s already the mySafaricom App? Why not bake everything into one app? Wouldn’t that be easier for customers? Well of course it would. I would love that too. Because think of it; I use the mySafaricom App, I have the Safaricom Home Fibre app, and if I were a business owner, I’d also need the M-Pesa for business app. 3 apps from one company.
However, I understand that building all those features into one app is not only quite the undertaking, but also risks bringing not only confusion when everyone demands their loved feature be easily accessible, but also failure whenever something little goes wrong somewhere. So, yes we will have to deal with the multiple apps, and customers will have to choose which app they want installed and which they don’t. Personally, I only use the mySafaricom App for M-Pesa related activities, so when the new App goes live, I will definitely be shifting. What about you?