Four months ago, as M-Pesa was announcing its financials, the company took that opportunity to announce the coming of age of their new M-Pesa solution, M-Pesa 1Tap. M-Pesa 1Tap was meant to solve the problem of redundancy and error prone nature of paying using Lipa Na M-Pesa service. The solution would reduce the process of paying with Lipa Na M-Pesa to a simple tap of an NFC enabled card, wrist band or phone sticker. The user would then be prompted to just input their M-Pesa PIN on their phones and the transaction would be completed in just under a minute.
When the service was announced, Safaricom said that 13,501 customers had already registered to use M-Pesa 1Tap and the company had already signed up 839 merchants to the service. Seeing that the service has only been available in Nakuru because “the town has urban and rural fronts that are backed by a strong commercial aspect”, it is prudent to assume that these numbers represent Nakuru residents, which is good.
Switch the date to today and details on M-Pesa 1Tap progress are scanty. Nakuru residents who have managed to use the service claim that it is hard to get a merchant who accepts the card. I spoke to one, Kikwai, who decided to try out M-Pesa 1Tap. “I picked one up (the card, since Safaricom has not started issuing out the NFC stickers and the wrist band) in Nakuru and found it was almost impossible to find a vendor accepting the card in the town,” he said, “The only place I was able to use it was at the Safaricom shop.” Kikwai goes ahead to explain that even merchants who had an M-Pesa 1Tap sign on their shops declined to accept the card, citing that he was only able to use the card at a petrol station outside of the Safaricom shops that accept the card.
I get irate every time I hear the words, “naweza lipa na M-Pesa?“
The most interesting part is that Kikwai tells me there are no supermarkets that accept the card. Information that, to me, beats the point of M-Pesa 1Tap. Safaricom should have started with testing the service in supermarkets, that is where it is needed the most. The number of times I have been held up in line in a supermarket because a customer has to pay via M-Pesa is uncountable, ask any Nairobian and they will share their testimonies on the same, I get irate every time I hear the words, “naweza lipa na M-Pesa?” (Translation: Can I pay via M-Pesa?) while on the queue, knowing that Safaricom has a solution that we can’t use.
We sought to find out what exactly happened to the service, so we reached out to Safaricom:
In May, we launched M-PESA 1Tap as a faster, more convenient way for our customers to make payments and for businesses to accept payments. We first launched the service in Nakuru in May 2017, and since then we have been collecting feedback on the merchant and customer experience with the service. Based on this feedback, we have refined the experience to provide a better and faster experience for our customers and merchants and we are now gearing up for launch in coming weeks.
According to Brian Wamatu (Acting Director – Financial Services, Safaricom), Nakuru’s launch wasn’t really a launch but some sort of pilot that the company has been using to gather feedback on the service. He also says that the company is looking to launch the service “in coming weeks.” The truth however is, we stopped getting excited. The launch of M-Pesa 1Tap has taken so long that we’re starting to wonder if Safaricom is sweeping the failure of the service under the carpet and acting like it never happened.
Anyway, patience pays, right?