The single most important function of technology is to make life easier. In the world of Safaricom, MySafaricom App is meant to achieve this objective. So far it has done as much for a number of Safaricom services including basic MPESA transactions, checking Airtime balance, accessing Bonga Points services, Buying bundles, and a few other services. One such service that MySafaricom App is meant to make easier is Airtime top up, but it hasn’t done much on this regard.
About three weeks ago Safaricom launched the MPESA 1 tap, a simple way of paying using Lipa Na MPESA. Instead of going through the tedious process of opening up the MPESA menu in SIM tool kit, the MPESA 1 tap now requires you to tap a card, a wrist band or a sticker on a Lipa na MPESA POS, enter pin, and that’s it. After running that article, one of the feedback comments we received via our Twitter Account was whether MPESA 1 tap can simplify the tedious process of Airtime top up.
When Safaricom was having the MPESA 1 tap roadshow in my estate, I asked them if the MPESA 1 tap could come in handy to assist not only for buying goods and services, but also for withdrawals, pay bills, or even Airtime Top up. They reaffirmed that as at now, MPESA 1 tap is only available for Lipa Na MPESA buy goods options. Then it occurred to me that a simple upgrade of MySafaricom App can make Airtime top up much easier.
Without MySafaricom App or the use of MPESA to top up airtime, the process of topping up your airtime is quite tedious. After buying the airtime voucher card, scratching it, you will be required to input *16digitscode#, and it is the 16 digits code part that makes airtime top up very hard. Most often than not, you’ll find yourself mistyping a digit or two, forcing you to repeat the entire process some times more than ones. This is why I personally stopped topping up my Airtime using top up voucher cards.
MySafaricom App that is supposed to simplify the process has not helped much as the App still requires you to enter the 16 digit PIN manually. But this shouldn’t be the case.
To day, when you have texts or images in hard copy, you no longer need to type them out. Your smartphone’s camera can be used to read any data directly from the printed hard copy or from any image using one of the many OCR Apps. One such App is Google’s Augmented Reality App Google Goggles. Others may include the Text Scanner App and the Text Fairy App both of which you can get in Google Play Store. With an App like Google Goggles, you wouldn’t need to manually input those 16 digit code to top up your airtime.
The OCR (Optical Character Recognition) tech can easily be integrated in MySafaricom App, and once that integration has been done, next time you want to top up your airtime you will only need to show the 16 digits code to your phone’s camera, MySafaricom App reads the 16 digits, then your work will be to press Send.
Better still, Safaricom could decide to also include a QR code on the airtime vouchers and include a QR code reader in the App. With the QR code on the airtime vouchers, those who want to top up their airtime will only need to scan the QR code via MySafaricom App and that’s it. They won’t even be required to press Send as after scanning the QR code the App can do the rest of the work for you, just as it happens when you link your WhatsApp to PC browser. The QR code itself can still be hidden the same way the 16 digits are hidden to prevent thieves from secretly scanning the QR code either in shops or from whenever they can access unused airtime vouchers. A revealed QR code will for sure mean that the voucher has already been used.
As Safaricom works to integrate the Loans and Savings and My Account services in MySafaricom App, I hope they also integrate OCR and/QR code scanning capabilities in the App so that the hustle of airtime top up can be done away with once and for all.