50% of Kenyans are on MPESA, but the number of Kenyans who pay for goods and services using Lipa Na MPESA are negligible. There are two reasons why you probably don’t pay for anything using Lipa Na MPESA – the obvious reason being the limited number of merchants who accept Lipa Na MPESA as a payment option. The second subtle reason but that may actually be hindering your usage of Lipa Na MPESA even in stores that already accept the Safaricom’s revolutionary payment platform is the entire process of using Lipa Na MPESA – and starting today MPESA 1 tap is here to do away with the hustle.
Before we can appreciate how MPESA 1 tap is such a revolutionary product by Safaricom, let us first understand how hard it is to pay for shopping in a supermarket setup. If you haven’t experienced this then put your brain into active imagination. You have picked your items from the shelves in Tuskys, or Naivas (no one goes to Uchumi or Nakumatt anymore). You head to the tills, search for the shortest queue, and join the queue behind this gorgeous damsels on heels. You are happy.
The queue moves, fast. Then suddenly it is her turn. She doesn’t have a trolley size shopping so your heartbeat doesn’t raise a bit. She gives the cashier her shopping, he scans them, then asks for payment. She says she will pay using Lipa Na MPESA. Her phone is in her purse. No it isn’t there. It is deep inside in her handbag. She can’t reach it. Alright, she finally gets it.
She has to unlock it. It is pattern locked. That’s not the hard part. She heads to the SIM Tool Kit, gets her hand on MPESA Menu, tries to press on Lipa Na MPESA but she accidentally presses Loans and Savings. This makes her nervous as she realizes she is already wasting your time. By the time she goes back to MPESA Menu, accesses Lipa Na MPESA and ensures she doesn’t choose Pay Bill instead of Buy Goods and Services, she can’t seem to hold it together so when it comes to entering the way too long six digits Lipa Na MPESA till number, she gets it wrong. She pays for the shopping yes but to a wrong till number. She doesn’t have any cash on her and her MPESA balance is now below her shopping’s worth.
I don’t know what the attendant would do – maybe close his till station so you’ll have to join the nearby queue all the way from behind.
Paying using Lipa Na MPESA may not be as hard as described above, but the point is clear – the entire process is hectic and may lead to unintended consequences, consequences that have subtly discouraged you from using Lipa Na MPESA. This is why when we heard of the news back in 2014 that Safaricom will launch NFC enabled SIM cards, we were elated. And waited. Then gave up.
The wait is now over as starting today the process of paying using Lipa Na MPESA is as simple as tap, enter pin, done. No circumventing to MPESA menu. No entering of the long six digits LIPA na MPESA till numbers, then PIN, then confirm. According to MPESA 1 tap ad by Safaricom, the process of using Lipa na MPESA is now error free.
MPESA 1 tap is the MPESA NFC enabled tech we have been waiting for for three years. It is the product that is going to turn MPESA from a dumb product to a smart one. Better still, it can be used by absolutely anyone. You don’t have to own a smartphone with NFC capability to use it. You don’t even have to own a smartphone at all. All you gonna have is a working Safaricom number with MPESA enabled, and get yourself the MPESA 1 tap, either as a phone sticker, MPESA 1 tap card, or a wristband. Safaricom is offering the MPESA 1 tap options for free, right now.
Hold on, don’t rush to Safaricom shop just yet to get your MPESA 1 tap solution, only those of us in Nakuru are allowed to do so, at least for right now. Soon, maybe from Monday, you can go to your Safaricom shop in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu or wherever to get your MPESA 1 tap. One other thing, merchants across the country are yet to get their MPESA 1 tap machines onto which you would tap the MPESA card or sticker or wristband. Until then, availability of MPESA 1 tap will be very limited.
From the press statements and ads by Safaricom, it is clear that MPESA 1 tap has not been integrated with existing NFC technologies already available in smartphones. This means that even if you have an NFC enabled smartphone, the only way you can use the MPESA 1 tap is by getting your sticker or card or wristband. This is not good news for those of us who hate carrying extra luggage simply because someone is unable incorporate existing solutions into their product so as to enhance customer experience.