There is no need to introduce M-PESA because the product is known within the Kenya borders and beyond owing to its broad range of offerings and massive success. It has become the go-to mobile money product for basic P2P transactions. Over time, the product has gone beyond that by offering business-related products to merchants, to mention a few.
The business aspect of M-PESA largely entails Till and Paybill numbers – and for housekeeping reasons, till numbers are those that allow customers to pay for goods and services, whereas Paybill numbers allow a business to collect money regularly using M-PESA. These functions have been available to business owners on a mostly rigid arrangement.
Rigid in the sense that business owners who wanted those products had to apply and submit hard copy documents to a Safaricom Shop near them, and wait for approval. The rigidness extended to accessing and managing their business accounts (Till and Paybill) using a USSD code (*234*4#).
To this end, Safaricom has made the application process an online affair, and has since released an M-PESA Business App that purposely aims to augment the offerings of the USSD code with useful features. The app is available for business accounts that have Android smartphones, and those on iPhones will be served in the next couple of weeks or months.
M-PESA Business brings a lot of features to the table, most or all of which are welcome to business owners. The Business tool eliminates the need to punch in codes on your phone dialer and makes the entire experience seamless and easy to use.
M-PESA Business: Features
Before we can look at the new features, we can just sum them up as follows: the app is easy to sign into (new business owners can apply for till or Paybill numbers using this portal – which is the same as this process we covered for short-term Paybill numbers); it rounds up trends and patterns to generate graphs based on collections and disbursements; it allows viewing of statements in real-time; and makes payments easier to execute.
The app is equipped with a feature that tracks a business’s money-in and money-out patterns. The tracking is visualized using a graph. The graphs can be expanded for further insights such as accumulated values in a given day.
Merchants can see all transactions that are made or received in their accounts. Owners can further use the money-in and money-out filter to filter between credit and debits.
The app is further equipped with a Pay Customer feature that allows merchants to pay their suppliers, perform refunds or salaries directly to their M-PESA wallets.
In addition, the Withdraw Money option allows business owners to move money collected on their tills to their own M-PESA wallets, M-PESA agents or bank accounts.
That’s not all: Paybill and Buy Goods merchants can pay their suppliers directly from their till.
Easy account management
Merchants who have multiple tills or Paybill accounts can access them at the same time because the Business allows them to do so. Thus, they can manage and transact across them, but they have to nominate a single number to access the tills.
Lastly, the Roll Up feature allows merchants to push collected funds to a head office.
Lipa na M-PESA products and options discussed above are used by many businesses, some of which may not be aware that Safaricom has made the entire exercise of applying for a till or Paybill number is done via a portal, and that the number is dispatched to them within 24 hours provided the application is successful.
Businesses that are aware of these benefits have their till displayed at their shops, which is why even a shop in the remotest part of the country has a Lipa na M-PESA banner. It has become an essential business add-on service, and we speculate that more merchants, small or otherwise, will get on board.
At the moment, Kenya is battling the pandemic, and some of the measures that have been put in place by the state include cashless payments for goods and services. For instance, there is a plan to roll out cashless payments for commutes.
Kenya is far from referring to itself as a cashless economy as we have seen in developed economies, but the pandemic has demonstrated the essence of embracing e-wallets for payments – of which merchant payments are a big part of.
Safaricom and M-PESA have been at the forefront of popularizing Lipa na M-PESA services, and the Business App in an attempt to make such forms of payments a norm.
The app can be downloaded HERE.