M-PESA, Easy Taxi, my1963 – Stop promoting card based payments in Kenya

Yesterday Easy Taxi launched a new feature in its mobile App for an in app cashless payment. The Easy Taxi Pay, as it is called, allows a passenger with a credit/debit card to add the card’s information to the App so that payment for the taxi service can be done simply by tapping the phone.

If this new Easy Taxi Pay add-on interests you, then here is how to go about it:


Go to Easy Taxi App, Press Menu button on the phone, select User Profile then go to Payment Methods, Press Add Card at the bottom of the screen, and input the card’s details as required by the App. You can add multiple cards. For the card to work, ensure that your bank allows online transactions. If you activate Easy Taxi Pay between now and March 31st, you can get Shs 500 off your ride by using the voucher code ETPLAUNCH.

The ability to now use credit/debit cards with Easy Taxi Pay adds onto the Easy Taxi’s acceptable payment methods that, before this, were only cash and M-PESA. Both cash and M-PESA are payable to the taxi driver as Easy Taxi is yet to find a way to integrate M-PESA into Easy Taxi App, or rather, Safaricom is yet to allow such integration.

Technologically, promotion of card based payments is a backward step

Easy Taxi is growing very fast in Kenya, probably at a rate higher than all the other similar business operators combined. This is because it’s business model is simple, easy to relate to and very convenient. Although Maramoja would want us to believe that their model is better (see comment in the article You gotta love Easy Taxi), it is highly likely that you actually do not have friends using Maramoja yet thus the TRUST feature doesn’t make much sense. Even so, after you have used a product like Easy Taxi, you would probably not care about referrals and rating of drivers from friends.

The above simply drive me to this point:- Easy Taxi is likely going to play a significant role in the transport sector and whatever succeeds in that sector, has a chance of being picked up by other sectors. I don’t want card based payments in Kenya to succeed, that would be driving us backward.

I don’t like cards to be successful as it is a technology that is being replaced by mobile based payments. According to an article appearing on RetailWire, a survey by an institution called Experian in the United Kingdom showed that smartphone based payments are to overtake credit cards by 2020. “In its 14th edition of Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) Predictions, Deloitte forecast that in-store smartphone purchases worldwide will increase by more than 1,000 percent this year (2013) versus 2014”, reported RetailWire.

Elsewhere in a country that shapes technology trends globally, Apple launched the now infamous Apple Pay, a product that we said should scare M-PESA, for reasons such as it will make mobile based payments based on NFC to go mainstream. Apple Pay, as it is, is expected to significantly enhance mobile payment and some day make card and possibly SMS based (M-PESA for instance) payments irrelevant.

A recent report by InfoScout and PYMNTS revealed that although only six percent of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus users use Apple Pay, the main reasons the others haven’t tried Apple Pay is the lack of knowledge of whether a merchant accepts Apple Pay or not. “Though adoption may be slow, there is a glimmer of hope in these statistics. The report says that 30 percent of people who have used Apple Pay make decisions about what stores they visit based on whether or not those stores have Apple Pay. Though those users account for a fraction of potential customers, it means that as Apple Pay use grows, it could seriously affect merchants that choose not to accept it”, writes VB.

What’s clear from the two reports is that the developed world is moving away from card based payments in favor of mobile based payments. One important reason for the move is that card based payment has created a scenario where individuals are required to carry multiple cards in their wallets, thus taking up the wallet space which causes wallet management stress.

card based payments in Kenya

The difficulty in handling several credit/debit cards is exemplified by the need to introduce just one card called Coin that stores information from all the other cards so that an individual is no longer required to walk around with all the cards but Coin. Coin is actually a card sized phone (calc?) that performs only one function, to store credit/debit card information.

As the developed world moves away from card based payment to mobile money, we, in Kenya, should pride ourselves that somehow we are the pioneers of mobile money and we should show the rest of the world how it is done. I don’t see any reason for local companies and businesses to promote card based payments in Kenya when the world is moving away from them in favor of our area of expertise.

Part of the perfection of mobile money that we need to do is to enable platforms such as M-PESA to offer all the functions of credit and debit cards.

“Mobile money alternatives are more convenient than cards,” said Habil Olaka, chief executive of KBA as quoted by Business Daily.


Next page – recent statistics on card based payment in Kenya vis a vis mobile money


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