PesaPal distributes its Sabi POS to about 2000 merchants across East Africa


PesaPal’s Sabi mobile point of sale (m-POS) has so far been distributed to over 1500 merchants across East Africa, with a lot of uptake coming from tour operators and the travel industry as well as schools and small retailers. The firm is hopeful that the festive season will even see the uptake more than triple.

According to the firm, most merchants are happy with the product and find the terminal’s small build convenient for use and better than any other POS systems in the market. Customers are also enthusiastic about Sabi POS because set up is fast and easy.

“As an aggregator, we work to provide our merchants and customers with as many payment options as possible so their launch provides us the opportunity to add to our offering,” said Wamuyu Kiragu, PesaPal’s Marketing Manager adding that the firm has been teaching merchants to understand how a non-traditional POS solution works to make the onboarding process easy as its offering a financial solution that has long been offered by large banks.

Another challenge PesaPal has faced is access to well priced Smartphones & Tablets to pair with the terminal but the firm is working to find a partner who can supply the devices at a reasonable price. Sabi POS plans to integrate T-Kash because its an interesting opportunity to Sabi POS users to have as many payment methods as possible. 


Sabi POS allows merchants in East Africa to accept card payments. Set up is simple as all one needs to do is get the terminal at around Ksh.8K for their shop, then download the Sabi Android App, create an account and start accepting payments. To accept payments, one inserts their customer card, adds amount to be paid then allows the customer to put in their PIN number, the Sabi completes the transaction. 

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Though Sabi POS is aimed at helping SMEs accept card payments, anyone can use it to power their businesses including top corporates with mobile branches as Sabi POS is mobile and allows them that flexibility of both field and office operations. Sabi POS is doing so well in Tanzania since the market there was undeserved. In Kenya, the bulk of Sabi POS users are retail shop owners as well as Travel agents. Sabi POS main competition is cash and banks who are trying to simplify their terminals too.

So far, Pesapal has partnered with Visa to Include Visa or mvisa on mobile as Pesapal payment option to boost financial inclusions. The firm has also launched Duka Manager to collect data about the business, the owners of the businesses then use the data to apply for loans from financial institutions. Sabi also does data collection but its major focus now is to allow the business to accept payments. Being NFC and Bluetooth-powered

Sabi POS initially thought Safaricom’s MPESA 1Tap would be its killer, but several months down after launch, MPESA 1Tap has died a peaceful dead and Safaricom went back to upgrade its Lipa na MPESA paybills or till numbers for faster speeds. But the speeds are slow and the privacy poor compared to cards. PesaPal Sabi users can also use either Bluetooth or NFC, thereby making it as mobile as possible as the Sabi POS terminal is lighter than most phones and portable and can handle up to 250 transactions on a single battery charge.

Safaricom’s M-PESA 1Tap was inferior as it was limited to M-PESA payments alone compared to Sabi which allows businesses to process Visa and MasterCard debit and credit cards in both local currencies and US dollars. Apart from being multi-currency and multiplatform, Sabi benefits from the relationship Pesapal has build with major banks, Mobile Network Operators, Credit Card companies and utility firms to give consumers as many payment options as possible and timely settlements for business to their bank account of choice.

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“We exist to bolster financial and digital inclusion in the markets we are in. We offer businesses freedom to access services that they have traditionally had more difficulty getting, either due to their size or volumes,” said then Pesapal CEO Agosta Liko who has since moved on to become Executive Director. “With Sabi we are doing this in the most accessible, affordable and mobile way available anywhere.”

Sabi mPOS terminals offered by Pesapal are able to process both chip and pin payments as well as Bluetooth and NFC contactless payments and give business owners the ability to view their transaction histories and issue receipts for their payments via the Android Sabi app. Apart from supporting mVisa, Visa and M-PESA, Sabi mPos is also working on getting American Express payments on board even making it better for its merchants in the tourism sector. Business can access Sabi online via where they set up a business account and sign a merchant contract and proceed to purchase their Sabi terminal which when delivered, will be set up for them and allows them to start transacting within 24 hours.

M-PESA 1Tap was rolled to all Lipa Na M-PESA merchants and customers in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Eldoret and Nyeri and was to be progressively rolled out to leading supermarkets, petrol stations, and restaurants such as Shell, Naivas, Choppies, KenolKobil, KFC, Oil Libya, Total and QuickMart but the uptake was miserable.  The pilot had more than 90,000 customers and 2,000 merchants taking up the service, but M-PESA 1Tap didn’t pick up. The merchants were using the NFC based reader integrated to their Lipa Na M-PESA tills and customers had the option of obtaining an M-PESA 1Tap wristband, phone sticker or card to allow payment integrations with M-PESA 1Tap merchant terminals. The tags are available from Safaricom shops and dealers from Ksh. 20.

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To make a payment, a merchant keyed in the payment amount into their device, tapped the customer tag, and the customer then keyed in their PIN on their phone to validate the payment. This was expected to cut down the steps involved from more than eight steps using the M-PESA tool on SIM cards to just one step for the customer but the process was too demanding for both the seller and buyer and most preferred the normal M-PESA tool on the SIM forcing the firm to revamp its speeds in the recent upgrade and shift focus away from MPESA 1Tap.