Telkom Kenya introduced its financial product, T-Kash a couple of days ago. The M-PESA and Airtel Money competitor was supposed to go live earlier after the telco halted the operations of Orange Money in late 2017. The delay was characterized by licensing issues with the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) that were eventually ironed out.
In our introductory piece, we highlighted a number of T-Kash’s unique offerings such as T-Kash codes that have enabled the telco to drop the use of agent numbers when making withdrawals or till and pay bill numbers when buying goods or paying for services/products. While these developments aim to reduce the time taken to perform transactions, people have raised concerns about their mode of operation, which marks the focus of this piece.
What are T-kash codes?
This is a one-time code that is generated by a user when performing a transaction. The code, which lasts for 10 minutes before expiry, is then entered by an agent/merchant on their devices to complete a transaction.
T-Kash went live in a time when competing services have made so much progress as far as assurances are concerned. A few years ago, agents and users had no ability to find out the identity of recipients before dispatching cash to their devices. It was chaotic and frustrating owing to millions of shillings that were sent to wrong people.
In line with recent developments, Telkom promises to eliminate these cases completely.
First, to send money, T-kash users need to dial *160# and select the ‘Send Money’ option. The next screen shows two options: To Mobile and To Bank. Select the former, enter the recipient’s number, followed by the amount to be sent. Before the transaction is confirmed, a screen pops up with the name of the recipient, the amount keyed in and transaction fees. Afterward, you enter your PIN and send.
As mentioned, withdrawing cash from a T-Kash agent is a seamless process that is mostly speedy on a customer’s end. All you need is hit *160# and select ‘Withdraw Cash’, choose from ‘agent’, enter a value and confirm details. After inputting the T-Kash PIN, a user will receive a text with a T-Kash code that an agent uses to confirm the transaction. A text confirming withdrawal is sent prior to receiving cash.
The same USSD code is keyed in. Then, select ‘Buy goods and services’, enter the amount to be transacted, then a PIN before hitting send. Demonstrably, no till number are needed for this exercise, meaning chances of sending cash to the wrong till are nil.
Afterward, the received T-Kash code is presented to a merchant for payment completion.
The same procedure is taken during bill payment, which also saves frequently-used services. Notably, this is the only service that requires users to enter the account numbers of a target service. No T-Kash codes are generated here (because it is a bill payment that does not need a third party for confirmation).
Summarily, we are not sure how T-Kash customers will save time if the task punching in pay bill, agent and till numbers is transferred to agents and merchants (who enter T-Kash codes on their devices to confirm a transaction) owing to the fact that conventional ways reverse uses the exact model of operations.
Also, inputting PINs on screens is done in plain text. No one wants to see their PINs, and I hope this is something Telkom will address as it plans to roll out STK and a T-Kash smartphone app, among other payment gateways.