Safaricom’s Lipa Mdogo Mdogo program was launched many months ago. The program allows the operator’s customers to purchase smartphones using a payments program that is spread over an extended period and completed in bits by bits. Thusly, ‘Mdogo Mdogo.’
At first, many of us were not aware of how this payment model would be managed, but it has since emerged that Safaricom sought the services of Google, which owns Android, to develop an app that locks out a user who defaults a payment.
The payments, by the way, go as low as KES 20 per day. It’s a price many people can afford, and that means they can enjoy smartphone services without spending an arm and a leg on expensive handsets.
Christened Device Lock Controller, the app started to make waves online after it was ‘accidently’ uploaded on the US Google Play Store side.
Its description is simple: It enables device management for credit providers, which in this case is Safaricom. It is not available anywhere else.
Google said that it would supplement the device portfolio for the telco with low-cost smartphones, but we are yet to see them here.
Of course, the search giant’s participation in the cause is not trivial, having developed the app and steered the development of the devices to adoption Android Go, the lightweight version of its smartphone operating system.
How the app works
Customers are asked to pay for their devices on a daily basis, and daily costs start at KES 20.
In case a customer misses a payment, then he/she is locked out from the device in three phases:
- On the fourth day after the repayment deadline, Safaricom will lock the phone, which then limits use.
- If the customer is still not paying, another ban is enforced on the 7th day. The defaulter is barred from all outgoing calls and SMS.
- A 30-day default will see the customer blacklisted and canceled for subsequent device loan facilities.
- The operator then sends your name to the credit police, CRB.
So far, the app has a little over 100 installs on Google Play. That is a low number, and we do not know if Safaricom will push for the service so that additional customers who cannot afford smartphones are onboarded.