Travelstart Kenya Gets Payments Security Certification to Encourage Online Bookings



Grace Ouma* (not her real name) wanted to travel but in her village, she couldn’t find anywhere to book her flights, so with days numbered, she took her bags and boarded a bus all the way to Nairobi.

What Grace didn’t know and believe was that she could buy her tickets simply via her smartphone phone and she could run her errands in Kisumu before her flight dates.

Speaking to TechMoran, Bryan Kariuki, Travelstart Kenya Country Manager said, “Online payments is one of the biggest challenges faced by e-commerce companies in Africa and Kenya in particular as credit card penetration is low, and even those who do have the cards are wary of using them to transact online.”

Ouma lies between the two. As a business person flying to Dubai, once a month and transacting business worth millions, she’s an educated woman. But unlike her calibre, a smartphone is for Facebook, Whatsapp and taking selfies.

“At Travelstart, we have met this challenge head on. We offer 5 payment methods to ensure our customers the utmost convenience when paying for their cheap flights.  40% of bookings are made via M-Pesa for amounts within the M-Pesa daily limit. This is our most popular method for domestic passengers, especially those within the next few days. Our paybill number is 921600.”

Others use Credit Card payments due to the privacy and integrity we guarantee of customers’ personal information. Still a good number, around 20% of the firm’s client’s deposit the money into the firm’s bank account via bank transfer and 10% pay in person and are mainly first time clients while 5% have opted for Cash on Delivery  and only pay when their tickets are delivered to their doors.

“For all except COD, once we receive the proof of payment, we send the electronic ticket to the customer via e-mail within 30 mins.  So clients don’t have to worry that they need to have a Credit Card to access our cheap flights!” says Kariuki.

Like Ouma, several  Kenyans are getting online using their smartphones, mostly accessing entertainment sites and news. Kariuki says there’s hope that this trend will change to have less people booking in person as it’s time wasting and even costly.

Karuiki’s hope lies in buyers’ safety online.

The Kenya Cyber security report was launched by the government in July calling for the private sector and government to come together and rethinking cyber security. This report aims to help protect every Kenyan online against threats, online and mobile banking fraud, mobile money fraud and many others.

1000x250__4_“Cyber-terrorists, spies, hackers and fraudsters are increasingly motivated to target our ICT infrastructure due to the increasing value of information within it,” said William Makatiani, managing Director of Serianu Limited. Makatiani sees hope only if firms could develop better intelligence and continuously monitor their networks, especially if they’re in e-commerce. Travelstart does.

“Travelstart’s website is protected with Thawte SGC-enabled SSL Certificates and displays the Thawte Secured Seal on secure pages and does not store any credit card details after transaction, so customers can be sure their details are completely secure when booking online,” Karuiki tells TechMoran.

“We want every client to book online because they’ll save their time and money for themselves and even, through our partners book for hotels and cars to and from the airport.”