At the beginning of December 2020, I shared about Safaricom’s in-house testing of a new M-Pesa app. It was a new approach to M-Pesa bringing to the front-end insights on spending, direct access to statements, and much more. It seems right now the app is open to the public, and it is really good. Like really good! There’s also 1GB of free data for customers who install and sign in to the new App. So if that’s an incentive to try it out, go ahead.
Only a few weeks ago, Safaricom launched the new mySafaricom App. So it might seem weird they already have another standalone M-Pesa app as this is already baked in on the mySafaricom App. However, the new M-Pesa app does so much more. It is meant to be a place you can easily see all the important data about how you use M-Pesa, bills you pay, people you send money to, and much more including detaching your mobile money wallet from your SIM card.
These are all the new things you get with the new App:
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. And it does this so well, including working even when the SIM card is removed.
Safaricom may remove this feature that allows the app to work without a SIM card, as we saw on the mySafaricom app. However, perhaps finally the company is seeing the need of shifting M-Pesa from being tied to your physical SIM card to being a standalone app one can use anywhere around the world. And if that’s the case, then maybe the company’s partnership with VISA aimed at building solutions around M-Pesa has a lot in store, and we should be very excited.
Years ago, there was the Safaricom Alpha team that tested out Bonga (later called Zwwup!). Their idea revolved around a messaging app with M-Pesa built in. I called it a crazy, not-well-thought-out venture before it was later on terminated. If such an M-Pesa app as the one we are now seeing, was what they worked on at that time, it would be a whole different world right now.
Like with the M-Pesa for 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, your monthly spend, your daily average and more, all seen in one glance.
At the Home Screen there are swipe-able cards to see monthly cash-in and cash-out.
There’s a growth tab which I believe may bring things like Safaricom Mali, and other products allowing you to invest, buy units etc. There’ a discover tab that currently only shows Safaricom bundles but may have more stuff later on, and a ‘My Spend’ tab that shows you how much you spent in a particular month in a graphical format. The ‘My Spend’ tab also breaksdown the expenditure into different categories from bills, to family and friends to give you insight on where most of your money went.
Safaricom recently brought biometrics access to the mySafaricom App. The problem is this: you can only use your fingerprint scanner to access the app. With the new M-Pesa App, things are better. After setting up, your fingerprint scanner will be used to authorise payments too. So when you want to make a payment or send money, after completing the process instead of entering your M-Pesa PIN, you touch your scanner to okay the payment.
The app also kicks you out easily whenever the phone is idle for a short period of time. So you have to keep either authenticating with your fingerprint scanner, or by entering your PIN so as to have access. Meaning it will be hard for someone to access your personal M-Pesa data.
Whenever you launch the M-Pesa app for the first time in a while, the Home Screen won’t show you everything as you’ve seen with the first two images above. You have to unhide using the toggle button on the right. You can also at anytime, click the button to hide these transactions and balances. This comes in handy when using the app in public and you don’t want other parties to view your details.
Pochi la Biashara:
Since launch, the new wallet for small merchants has only been available through the M-Pesa USSD code *334#. This its first sighting on an App. So when you click “PAY” that’s available on the Home Screen, you can select the ‘POCHI LA BIASHARA’ option to quickly send money to a small merchant who wants to separate business from personal payments.
If they’ve added their profile picture, you can quickly see and confirm they’re the right person.
Other cool stuff:
- Receipts – You can also, after completing a transaction, download a full receipt showing details of the transaction, including ETR details. Check sample receipt in this image I’ve shared on Twitter.
- Send to many – On the App, this option still says coming soon. Ideally, you’ll be able to quickly send money to different people at the same time instead of doing it one by one.
- Profile Pictures – When signing up, there’s the option to add a profile picture. This will allow people to see the pictures when sending each other money, and could be a good way of verifying identity when sending money. However, one can easily skip this, so it doesn’t appear to be a requirement.
- QR Codes On the top right of the app, there’s a QR Code scanner allowing you to easily scan QR codes of different Paybill or Till Number merchants. There’s also the cool option of generating your own QR Codes (including amount of money), and having people scan your QR code and send you money.
- Offline Mode The app can also work offline allowing basic payments and transfers without needing an internet connection. Cool!
The app is fast, smooth, and ready, I believe. The features that are still marked “Coming Soon” will definitely find many of us already enjoying using it.
If you’re already using the app, what are some of the features you’ve really liked? Which ones do you dislike? Also, if you haven’t tried out the app, what’s one thing you’d like added before you test it out?