There some of those thing that get launched that you wonder who tf needs them, and an example is the latest unveiled MPESA USSD – the *334#. I’m not sure for purpose Safaricom thought that feature phones (smartless phones) need a USSD. Has anyone complained over the functionality of the typical SIM Card toolkit from where almost everyone has been accessing MPESA services since its launch in 2007?
Not only, that, but the fact that the MPESA USSD adds an additional steps to accessing the MPESA services makes you wonder why the introduction of the service. The worst part is that using the USSD option doesn’t hide the MPESA PIN by turning the pin codes into asterisk e.g **** during input.
Needless to say, this is what Safaricom says the newly launched MPESA USSD will serve:
M-PESA on *334# targets non-smartphone users by consolidating all M-PESA services in a single, easy to use menu with more flexibility than is possible on the current SIM toolkit menu. The new menu makes it easier to send money to the correct recipient by displaying the receiver’s name and only advancing once the customer confirms the transaction.
“We have embarked on a strategy to simplify our range of products and services for our customers and to provide them with an even better experience. M-PESA on *334# is our first solution as part of the ongoing strategy and it refines how our customers interact with the service. Customers now have the opportunity to truly confirm the details of a transaction before it can progress making reversals a thing of the past,” said Peter Ndegwa, CEO, Safaricom.
To use the service, customers will dial *334# upon which they will be presented with a choice of the different M-PESA services including “Send Money”, “Loans and Savings” or “Lipa Na M-PESA”. As with other USSD menus, customers will key in the number selecting the service such as “5” for Lipa Na M-PESA.
M-PESA on *334# brings together all services that have previously being offered through different USSDs saving customers from having to remember the different numbers.
Within the Lipa Na M-PESA menu, customers can directly select PayBill and Till Numbers for Banks, Government and County Government Services, and Transport services including the SGR and long-distance buses. Once a customer selects any of the options, they will be presented with a list of services they can then pay through Lipa Na M-PESA.
Customers can also use the Lipa Na M-PESA option to pay to personal numbers for select businesses.
Other options now available on M-PESA on *334# include M-PESA Global which empowers customers to send and receive money across the world.
The service is especially targeted at non-Smartphone users or as an alternative to the Safaricom app and is immediately available to all more than 25 million M-PESA customers.
In addition to making M-PESA more convenient to use, the service also makes it easier for Safaricom to deploy additional M-PESA features free of the restrictions imposed by the old SIM Card Menu. As a result, customers can enjoy smoother functionality such as with Hakikisha on this new menu.