Safaricom M-PESA Xpress has been around for more than four years.
The feature was launched by the operator to see Kenyans pay easily for apps from places such as Google Play or iOS’s App Store.
At its launch, it made a lot of sense why this development was made. Many Kenyans just wanted an easy way to get their favourite paid apps without either using their cards or pirating them and depriving developers of revenue.
But how has it been performing over the years?
Not very well, because from our side, we had high expectations for it. The high hopes were complemented by Safaricom’s hand in the mobile money space.
M-PESA’s market share is at more than 99 percent as per the last sector results from ICT regulator the Communications Authority. This is not news, though, because M-PESA has been around longer than other mobile money services, and has the advantage of numbers because Safaricom is the leading carrier in Kenya at more than 64 percent market share.
High fail rates
One of the issues associated with Xpress is frequent failure rate.
I have never gotten it to work on my side, and some of the people around us have the same issue.
We have also learned from another user that the product depends on SIM card capabilities. This means that failure rates are high in older and un-updated SIM sim tool kits.
Also, M-PESA Xpress has also been designed to work in smartphones, meaning people who have feature phones are out of luck.
To note, feature phones are a big thing in Kenya. Millions of Kenyans cannot afford smartphones, and while Safaricom has tried to address the issue by launching ultra-cheap phones such as the Neon line, as well as higher-purchase-based Lipa Mdogo Mdogo, locals have stuck to their dumbphones.
As per the numbers by the CA, Kenya has 33 million feature phones compared to smartphones, so that means that the SIM tool kit, while functional, alienates customers from enjoying some Safaricom M-PESA features and services, including Xpress.
Little mention on media
It is also possible that the product was expected to turn things around as far as functionality and onboarding many customers are concerned, but that hasn’t happened.
Safaricom also pushes its products widely through ad campaigns, but Xpress is conspicuously missing from promotional programs.
Is that by design? Probably yes, because the operator’s product gravesite is not unused, bearing in mind that it has axed many products and services before. So when a product does not perform as expected, it is pushed aside. Remember Masoko and Songa?
Still a good product
In sum, Xpress should receive more visibility because it is a genuinely good product that ensures customers can access apps their apps without using the cards.
But it is yet to meet expectations and has high failure rates to be really useful for groups that use them.