When I started blogging in 2013, one of the first articles I wrote was M-Pesa should stop being dumb and go smart in which I argued that it was time for MPESA to start Internet enabled services through deployment of an M-Pesa app for smartphones. That was August 2013, today, six years later, MPESA has not only gone smart, but the entire Safaricom ecosystem can be said to be smart, so smart such that anyone not using mySafaricom App can be said to be living a very hard life. Here is why.
If not on mySafaricom App, then the best way to access Safaricom services is either the SIM Toolkit that automatically becomes available on any phone or through one of the uncountable USSD codes that Safaricom has launched. The problem with using the USSD codes are two fold: foremost you must know them off head. For example, how many of you know the USSD code for buying airtime on behalf of someone else? I surely cannot remember whether it is *140*CardNumber*PhoneNumber# or something along that line. By the look of the code alone one already feels that the process is not only tedious, but complicated too. Other USSD codes such as *444#, *126#, *456# are also available for various services. The second part of the problem is that most of these USSD codes keeps on being dropped as others get introduced. For example *125# is no longer available. When you dial it right now, you will receive a message telling you to dial *456*3# instead. Lastly, the problem with USSD codes is that to get the particular service you are interested in, you will have to reply back so many times with digits such as 1 or 2 or 6 or whatever number, sometimes with 98 in order to proceed to the next screen, until you are likely to feel wtf!
An example of a cumbersome service to get through USSD is buying data. Let’s assume you want to buy a Giga Bundle. The first step you will need to do is to dial *544#. On the pop up screen, you will need to reply with 5. Then on the next screen you will need to reply either with 1 or 2 if you want to buy the daily 1GB for Shs 99 or the weekly 10GB for Shs 999. Assuming you have chosen chosen the daily bundle, the next screen will now need you to reply with either 1 for Buy once or with 2 for Auto Renew. The reply won’t be done at this stage. On the next screen, pop up screen will ask you to choose whether you want to buy through Airtime (reply with 1) or through MPESA (reply with 2). Then there is another next screen which will ask you to Accept the purchase (reply with 1) or Decline (Reply with 2) – A total of 6 steps.
Compare the above process with the process you’d take if you were to buy the same data via mySafaricom App. With the App, your first step would be to Open the App. Second Step will be to Press on Services from the Menu List. Third Step would be to choose Data & SMS Plans, And Finally all you will need to do is to Activate the Daily 1 GB. It is important to emphasize here that the process of selecting an Icon on the App is a one tap action, as compared to dialing the USSD code which has a minimum of three taps (activating keyboard, selecting the digit to reply with, then sending) or up to 6 taps when you have to dial the USSD code and Press the call button.
The only downside with my Safaricom App is that not all Safaricom services that you can access via USSD or even the SIM Toolkit have been made available on the App. For example we have the popular Tunukiwa and Blaze services that you can only access via USSD, and Fun services such as Sports, Horoscope, Verses and Wazup (love) services that are only available via the SIM Toolkit. Other than those, the beauty of mySafaricom App once made me to ask wonder why majority of Kenyans had not downloaded the App yet.
To download the App, head over Google Play store or whatever store that is native to your device, search for mySafaricom, then click Install.