The announcement of Safaricom’s new MPESA-based solution, M-Pesa 1 Tap is aiming to be a game changer in payment services for M-Pesa users. Generally speaking, this is a bold statement to make, and Safaricom is confident that the speed and simplicity of 1 Tap will make it a success.
Ideally, how this solution works is effortless, at least on the user-merchant end. All you need is a Card, Wrist Band or an NFC Badge (they will be given to users for free, with a restriction to a single choice) that has to be linked to your M-Pesa account at the point of collection including M-Pesa Agent Shops, authorized dealers or Safaricom Shops. Linking, which is done using the POS system (it is rechargeable and the battery can last for a week on normal usage), is a one-minute affair that involves entering your M-Pesa Pin on your handheld device after being prompted to do so. Successful linking is then confirmed via text.
It is worth noting that owning one of these NFC-embedded solution is a mandatory if you need to make payments with M-Pesa 1 Tap; it doesn’t matter if your cellular gadget has an inbuilt NFC chip because it will not work. We are not certain of the reason(s) for this decision and as much it’s disappointing for people who have NFC-enabled phones, we can only speculate that Safaricom is trying to push a solution that does not lean on provisions rendered by third parties.
Payment, on the other hand, takes a straight-forward approach. Upon purchasing goods/services, a merchant will enter the value of the products, followed by the tapping of the NFC Tag/Card/Wristband on the POS machine. You will be prompted to enter the pin (on your phone) to authorize the transaction. Also, just like any MPESA transaction, you will receive a confirmation message, and the process takes less than 30 seconds to complete, which will be a relief for those supermarket queues that come to halt when shoppers choose the Lipa na M-Pesa solution.
By the way, the PIN prompt does not show payable amounts, so you will need to confirm that your merchant has entered the right amount.
The decision to roll out the service in Nakuru (it will launch in Nairobi and other areas in coming days) is that the town has urban and rural fronts that are backed by a strong commercial aspect.
Also, as of May 9 2017, the number of customers who have activated 1 Tap accounts is 13,501 while that of registered merchants with POS machines is 839. However, details about the kind of registered merchants are limited, so we cannot know the number of supermarket chains, Mama Mboga, restaurants or shop owners that have embraced M-Pesa 1 On Tap.
Lastly, it should be remembered the M-Pesa 1 Tap Card is not a Visa or MasterCard because one of the major purposes of the solution is to penetrate the most informal of businesses that may not be able to incur extra charges associated with such cards. In like manner, you cannot make online payments with it, which is a space that M-Pesa has not been exploiting.