Safaricom has a ton of apps for some of its products and services. However, two of those apps are quite popular among its subscribers: the ordinary mySafaricom app, and the M-PESA app that has been undergoing tests since 2020.
The M-PESA app is quite popular as of this writing and for many good reasons. It is modern based on its looks (user interface is unmatched) and has most of the M-PESA functionalities to be used exclusively without ever seeing the need to call the STK menu, or the mySafaricom app.
It should, however, be noted that the app is yet to exit beta. We were thinking that by now, it should be fully stable for the masses, but we know that should be happening soon. Besides, the operator has been sending text messages to customers about the M-PESA app’s existence and with a link to app stores. This is perhaps one of the reasons why the app has been downloaded more than 500K times, which is quite a good number compared to other locally-made apps that rarely amass many downloads.
With that out of the way, we should report that we have been using the app for nearly six months now, and there are many features that have genuinely impressed us. So, shall we talk about them?
This is perhaps one of the main reasons why we have been in love of the M-PESA app. During set up (which should be done on a mobile data connection, unlike mySafaricom app that can be set up using Wi-Fi), the app will prompt you to set up biometric authentication. This means that you can either unlock the apps using your fingerprint of face, whichever works for you best.
The good thing about this is that no one will see your M-PESA pin when performing a transaction, which is a good thing especially in crowded M-PESA agent shops or supermarket lines. It beats mySafaricom app, which can be secured with biometrics but will call for a PIN number to complete a transaction.
The only downside of biometrics authentication is a case where another person picks up your phone and launches the app while you are asleep (with either your finger or face). This is likely to happen for some, but can be overcome altogether by sticking to a PIN code.
This update just came in the other day. Previously, the app would display your balances at the top part of the interface. This was a bother to many including yours truly. Now, you can hide that balance by clicking on the ‘eye’ button. The feature also hides your transaction history, which makes it a very good security feature.
As its name suggests, M-PESA app users can request from friends, family or colleagues. It is quite easy to do so: just enter phone number you want to request money from, enter the amount, add a descriptive text (optional), and authenticate the transaction. The recipient will receive the request and act accordingly.
The question is that is this a feature that many people will use? – because ordinarily, people make phone calls or send a text message to the person they want to ask for money from. Nevertheless, we are glad the feature is here, and if it doesn’t make a lot of sense to you, you can still…
For now, the app only allows you to send cash to a maximum of five people. Say you want to pay your employees via M-PESA, you can do so by sending them money in batches without picking them separately. We must admit that this is a handy feature for business people, and is already gaining popularity thanks to the people we have interacted with.
Note: you will still pay transaction fees for each person you send money to while using the feature.
The M-PESA app now has all the popular bills in its system, which means that there is no need to memorize them. The bills range from Kenya Power to DStv. Better, you can even search through them to find a specific pay bill number.
In the same breath, the till section saves your frequent numbers or favourite bills, which is handy because it saves time.
Both options (Pay bill and till) have an option to scan QR codes in case you are willing to go that route.
When the app launched, a lot people were excited about the ‘My spend’ feature. It basically adds up all your M-PESA transaction and reveals how much money your M-PESA account has processed. The spend is limited to a month.
However, the feature does not go into more insights like M-Ledger used to back in the day.it rounds your expenditure into ‘General’, ‘friends and family’, ‘withdrawal’, and ‘bills and services.’
We feel that the app could have done more here in terms of breaking down expenditure into additional specifics as we discussed in the M-Ledger post before.
The new M-PESA app can be used without a mobile connection to perform basic transactions. The toggle to turn this feature on is found on the settings sections as shown in the image. You can send cash using the feature, pay bills, and much more. This a good development because there are many cases when a user may not have data, and the feature would then come in handy. This is also the first offline implementation we have seen from the operator because its other apps such as mySafaricom do not have it.
There are many other tiny things that the M-PESA app does very well.
- For instance, you can see all the transactions performed over a certain period (we can go back as far as three months only). The app pulls the transactions from the cloud, meaning you can perform them on another device or via STK and still see them once you install the app.
- The app can also work just fine even when you pull your SIM card out. This means the app can still be used even if your SIM card is on another device.
- On the lifestyle side of things, you can access services such as bus booking (via BuuPass) or Madaraka Express, and request for a gas cylinder (ProGas).
- You can also save via M-Shwari, although KCB M-PESA has not been integrated yet (mySafaricom app has it).
And did we say that the app is beautiful and responds well?
One thing you should note is that the M-PESA app is not here to replace mySafaricom app. Both are two different products that serve specific purposes; M-PESA is solely for the mobile money product, while mySafaricom has integrated almost all Safaricom services, including Home Fibre management.
We look forward to seeing the app getting more features as the carrier attempts to make the tool more appealing to customers before it rolls out officially to all.