Safaricom slashes M-Pesa to bank & merchant transaction fees in renewed fight against Pesalink


Safaricom said it will next week implement a 50% tariff reduction for all Lipa Na M-PESA Buy Goods merchant fees, a move that will see the firm charge merchants a maximum of 0.5% of the transaction amount, down from the previous maximum of 1%.

The telco added that Lipa na M-PESA merchants will charged a flat fee of Sh200, for any payments above Sh40,000.

However, the big news is that merchants will also enjoy the convenience of instant processing of payments made through Lipa Na M-PESA to their bank accounts, with the service now available at 23 participating banks beating non-functional PesaLink’s 12 clueless banks.

According to Bob Collymore, CEO, Safaricom, “We trust that this development will boost the attractiveness of the Lipa Na M-PESA platform to more small and medium enterprises while making the service more affordable compared to other alternatives in the market.”

Safaricom also said it has revamped the system to cut down the time that it takes to move money from a Lipa Na M-PESA till to a bank account from as much as 28 hours down to seconds, another blow to PesaLink which is struggling to reduce the transaction time to half a minute.

Safaricom’s Real Time Settlements are targeting small and micro businesses, such as kiosks, bodabodas, matatus, newspaper vendors, hawkers, hotels, restaurants and small eateries amongst others who have no time to visit a bank, neither do they have time to wait.

However, to reap on the growing new sports betting craze, Lipa Na M-PESA PayBill and Gaming merchant tariffs, and Lipa Na M-PESA petrol station tariffs will not be affected by these changes.

Compared to Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) backed PesaLink, Safaricom’S m-Pesa is steps ahead.

PesaLink is not yet live even after launching with fanfare after a long period working in a pilot phase and bank staff have no clue how it works. KBA also needs to spend millions marketing it to users who are glued to M-Pesa as their daily mobile wallet compared to PesaLink which is more of an internal bank to bank money transfer service.

PesaLink’s only advantage is the ability to transfer as little as 10 shillings up to 999,999 shillings at an extremely low cost of 0 to 152 shillings, unlike M-Pesa which is capped below Ksh 200,000 but there is alleged lobbying to have the cap raised to a higher amount. This might not be a hard sale as the Kenyan government through the treasury owns 35 percent of Safaricom.

Customers in the 12 banks set to begin implementation of PesaLink are already using M-Pesa and banks have no guarantee their clients will shift to the new and untested PesaLink.

The Kenya Bankers Association and various banks have been working on the inter-bank mobile money platform for a long while with a sole aim of cutting out Safaricom’s M-PESA from the money chain. However, the banks might soon realize that overthrowing M-Pesa might not take much more than just launching their own inter-bank transfer service.

See below the Banks and Financial Institutions Offering Instant Lipa Na M-PESA to Account Transfers

# Real Time Settlement Provider Real Time Settlement Support
1 Equity Bank USSD + Web
2 Kenya Commercial Bank USSD + Web
3 Co-operative Bank USSD + Web
4 Diamond Trust Bank USSD + Web
5 NIC Bank USSD + Web
6 Standard Chartered Bank USSD + Web
7 Family Bank USSD + Web
8 Stanbic Bank USSD + Web
9 Consolidated Bank USSD only
10 National Bank of Kenya USSD + Web
11 Gulf African Bank USSD + Web
12 Eco Bank USSD + Web
13 First Community Bank USSD only
14 Commercial Bank of Africa USSD + Web
15 Bank of Africa USSD + Web
16 Chase Bank USSD + Web
17 Credit Bank USSD + Web
18 UBA Bank USSD only
19 Jamii Bora Bank USSD only
20 Spire Bank USSD + Web
21 Paramount Universal Bank USSD + Web
22 Prime Bank USSD + Web
23 Sidian Bank USSD + Web
24 Safaricom SACCO USSD only

Telkom Kenya upgrades network in Naivasha from 2G to 3G


Telkom Kenya has upgraded its Mobile Network in Naivasha to 3G in its long term and wider network modernisation and expansion strategy that began late last year.

The telco is undertaking service upgrades across its network, enabling Kenyans to enjoy an improved experience on Mobile and Data service.  3G will ensure consumers are able to enjoy better voice quality and faster Internet speeds.

Naivasha, within the larger Nakuru County, is an urban town; home to a growing Kenyan population that receives a steady number of tourists to a series of tourist attractions in the area, all with diverse Mobile Voice and Data needs.

Telkom Kenya also recently signed a contract with the Ministry of ICT and the National Constituency Development Fund (NCDF) that will see the telco install 1,160 Constituency Incubation Hubs across the country.

These hubs will benefit youth entrepreneurs by way of helping them develop their ICT skills and applications, bringing them into the digital world and enabling them to grow and start new businesses.

Safaricom introduces FLEX Bundles to cement customer loyalty


Safaricom has today introduced FLEX Bundles targeting to retain users across all its major product portfolio including M-Pesa, SMS, voice and data in a move to bolster its revenues threatened dby OTT platforms such as WhatsApp and Viber.

Customers purchase FLEX Bundles by dialling *100# or *200# on Prepaid and Postpaid packages respectively and they can use the units for data, voice and SMS, albeit locally, with a promise of up to 35% more value than it had been.

Though subscribers will hugely praise the firm for this move; Flex is not an ordinary launch especially after the firm launched Blaze nearly a year ago. Flex aims to help the firm bring back its voice, data and SMS revenues from OTT platforms such as WhatsApp, Viber among others which can be access over free Wi-Fi at work, in Matatus and in restaurants. The more the firm bundles them together, the harder it will be for users to pick only voice or M-Pesa.

C7iQSxCWkAAh5SQ.jpg largeAccording to the firm, validity of the Flex bundles is dependent on whether one is using a daily, weekly or monthly package. The Daily package is valid for 24 hours while the Weekly is valid for 7 days and the monthly is valid for 30 days.

FLEX Units are not transferable to another number and a purchase of FLEX units contributes to one’s Stori Ibambe daily target but Skiza and USSD VAS services are not billed from FLEX.

Liquid Telecom launches live tracking map of Kenya’s Safari Rally



Liquid Telecom Kenya has launched a live tracking map for this year’s Safari Rally giving rally enthusiasts the ability to follow the competition and individual drivers online as well use the opportunity to brand and market itself.

“Our roll out of GPO-based timing technology to move the rally to international standards meant we were able to track every vehicle throughout the race. It was a natural next step to create a map for everyone, and an app to follow, that allow motor rally fans to follow the rally across the entire course,” said Mr Paul Statham, Chief Commercial Officer of Liquid Telecom Kenya.

Apart from this technology, Liquid Telecom Kenya has direct sponsorships of rally driver Ian Duncan, and of the women’s team Rally Chix. Its aim has been to upgrade Kenyan rallies to the international standards of safety and precision set by the International Motorsport Federation (FIA), and strengthen Kenya’s bid to be reinstated in the World Rallying Championship (WRC) by 2019.

The Safari Rally was first run as a WRC round in 1973, but was dropped from the world championships in 2002, and has since been run as a domestic Kenyan event. However, for nearly 30 years, it was one of the world championship’s most important rallies.

“The move to live tracking is the most advanced technology that we have yet added, putting the rally ahead of many other world championship rallies,” said Paul.

The technology has been used in several rallies in Northern Africa, in Tunisia and Morocco, while many rallies and cross-country rallies in Europe rely on the system, which is also used to support driver safety.

“The tracking map is powered by transponders in every driver’s car that send tracking signals to central units,” said Paul. “Our latest step was to commission and implement software for a rally course map that could be visible and transparent and available to every motor sports fans, as well as to the rally’s organisers, participating teams, and even the emergency services.”

The mapping will thus mean far speedier location and rescue of any driver that gets into trouble.

The live tracking displays every vehicle taking part in the rally with its rally number and offers a pop up window with information on the driver, co-driver, type of vehicle, GPS position and latest time stamp.

The map for the Safari Rally will go live at 8 am on 17th March, as the rally begins, and will run on the Liquid Motor Sports Kenya FaceBook Page and on Liquid Telecom’s Facebook account.

As well as offering live tracking, the Safari Rally map offers a rally replay facility that enables direct comparisons of times between drivers, and replays of specific legs of the rally. Using multiple satellites at the same time, it shows the position of each car with an accuracy of +/- 2 metres.


Orange launches its brand in Burkina Faso after Completing the Acquisition of Airtel


Orange has launched its brand in Burkina Faso, less than one year after the closing of the Group’s acquisition of Airtel , together with Orange Côte d’Ivoire.

The firm says it will develop mobile financial services and 3.75G mobile Internet in Burkina Faso and expand its mobile money solution in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) as well as its optical fibre network.

According to Bruno Mettling, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Orange group and Chairman and CEO of Orange MEA (Middle East and Africa): “It is a great honour for the Orange group to inaugurate its presence in Burkina Faso at a time when the country is resolutely engaged in a vast economic development programme. The arrival of the Orange brand testifies to our commitment to providing the benefits of the digital ecosystem to the entire population of Burkina Faso.”

Orange Burkina Faso has 6.3 million subscribers and is present in 21 countries in Africa and the Middle East, where it has more than 120 million customers. Orange Money, its flagship offer for money transfers and mobile financial services is currently available in 17 countries and has more than 30 million customers.

Ben Cheick Haidara, CEO of Orange in Burkina Faso, added: “Today, customers in Burkina Faso are more demanding and the way they use digital services has evolved; we are at a decisive turning point in the development of the telecoms market. Our ambition is to continue the work accomplished in recent years in the mobile money and mobile Internet fields to make Orange the leading partner for Burkina Faso’s digital transformation.”

Telkom Kenya inks deal to roll out Free Wi-Fi to over 1000 constituency hubs

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Telkom Kenya is set to roll out free Wi-Fi in 1,160 Constituency Incubation Hubs, in a just concluded multi-million deal that will see the once struggling telco get back to its knees.

The deal will see the firm install Wi-Fi in  government-funded Constituency Incubation Hubs in the 290 constituencies across the country.

According to Managing Director of the Enterprise Division at Telkom Kenya, Kris Senanu, “We are excited about the roll-out of this new government project. As a strategic partner to the Kenya government’s national ICT agenda, Telkom Kenya is able to provide end-to-end solutions, tailor-made to meet a growing set of needs for the Public Sector.”

The deal will complement Telkom Kenya’s stakes in the Internet development space, as other players move to lay fiber across the country in a move to profit from the growing middle class who heavily rely on the Internet for their work and play in this knowledge-based economy.

The deal is funded by the Ministry of ICT and the National Constituency Development Fund (NCDF).

Telkom Kenya will install internet in 4 hubs per constituency, which will be equipped with 40 tablet devices each.

The Hubs will benefit youth entrepreneurs by way of helping them develop their ICT skills and applications, bringing them into the digital world and enabling them to grow and start new businesses.

The National Constituency Development Fund will fund the project for the supply and installation of the equipment component while the Ministry of ICT will fund the provision of Internet broadband services for a period of one year.

Telkom Kenya also manages the government’s National Optic Fibre Backbone (NOFBI).

Telkom Kenya reintroduces Holla tariff to target the youth


In 2012, Telkom Kenya introducded Holla,a youth-friendly which was later transformed into a permanent tariff in late 2012. Today, the firm said it has  dropped its off-net call rates for their bundled offerings of Holla Plus and Holla Premium to KSh 1.80 from KSh 3.00.

Holla Plus and Holla Premium subscribers will now enjoy the lowest call rates in the country.

Existing Holla subscribers on the Holla Plus and Holla Premium bundles will get to immediately benefit from the new KSh 1.80 off-net call rate.

Telkom Kenya’s Chief Corporate Communications Officer, George Mlaghui said,We’re all about creating value to the Telco customer and these Holla bundles confirm our resolve to create more choice.Telkom Kenya appreciates the market demand for better quality products that demonstrate more value to them.”

The all-inclusive Holla Plus and Holla Premium bundles come with free on-net calls and free SMSs across all networks. In addition, the Holla Premium bundle now has an increased validity period of 72 hours from the previous 24 hour period. To subscribe, one needs to dial *10#.The Holla Bundles come with an automated renewal feature for ease of planning for customers, with the option of deactivation by dialing *11#.

Subscribers also get to earn Ziada points – within the loyalty program under the same name, for prepaid customers – on purchase of any of the Holla bundles.




Offer Name Retail price (Kshs) Minutes (on net) Minutes (across network) SMS (across network) Data (MB)
Holla 9 40 40 10
Holla Plus 19 FREE KSh 1.80 (Rate) FREE 20
Holla Premium 49 FREE FREE 100
Airtel (Unliminet) 20 4 4 20 10
Airtel (Unliminet) 50 20 100 50
Airtel (Unliminet) 100 60 500 150

Competitor Propositions for PAYG rate


Offer Name Retail Price (KShs) Time of day
Safaricom (Uwezo Tariff) KSh.4 per min on-net/off-net

KSh.2 per min on-net/off-net



Airtel (Vuka Tariff) KSh.4 per min on-net/off-net

KSh.2 per min on-net/off-net




Millicom’s Tigo Ghana to merge with Airtel Ghana


Millicom and Airtel have entered into an agreement for Tigo Ghana Limited and Airtel Ghana Limited to combine their operations in Ghana in a move that will see them have equal ownership and governance rights in the combined entity.

According to Mohamed Dabbour, Executive Vice President, Millicom Africa, “In a highly fragmented telecom market, this deal represents a major milestone for our business in Ghana. The combination of Tigo and Airtel will create an operator that will be able to offer Ghanaian consumers and businesses a state of the art network with high speed mobile data coverage. This transaction underlines confidence in the Ghanaian economy, and provides the opportunity to develop nationwide digital infrastructure and services in Ghana.”

The combined business would serve nearly 10 million customers, of which 5.6 million are data customers. It would cover more than 80% of Ghana’s population with high speed data, providing the widest 3G coverage across the country, and would have revenues close to $300m, making it one of the largest communications companies in Ghana.

The transaction is subject to obtaining approvals from the relevant authorities in Ghana and the satisfaction of customary closing conditions.

By integrating the two networks, the combined business is expected to provide Ghanaian customers with a major boost in both rural and urban network coverage – in turn translating into better voice quality, high speed data services and reinforced network stability and resilience. With the combined fibre footprint and increased data centres, enterprise customers including both, large corporations and SMEs, would have access to a diverse portfolio of world class solutions. Mobile Financial Services is also expected to be greatly enhanced with combined agent networks and platforms.

Raghunath Mandava, MD and CEO, Airtel Africa, said: “The agreement highlights our commitment to the Ghana market and our customers. The coming together of the two entities will benefit customers, who can now enjoy an extensive combined network and a wider range of affordable and innovative products and services. It will further strengthen our position in the market and offer huge benefits arising out of synergies in operations, resulting in better experience for the customers.”

Ericsson & Tigo partner to connect rural Tanzania



Ericsson and Tanzanian mobile network operator Tigo have partnered to launch the first of a series of rural pilot tower sites to provide mobile broadband coverage in Chiwale and Mingumbi in Lindi Mtwara region, in rural Tanzania.

The partnership is part of a pilot infrastructure-sharing partnership brokered by the GSMA with Tigo, the government of Tanzania, and two other major mobile network operators to connect the over 13 million underserved individuals living in rural parts of the country.

According to Jean-Claude Geha, Head of Region Sub-Saharan Africa, Ericsson: “Our partnerships and solutions seek to bring the benefits of mobile technology to everyone in creating a more inclusive and sustainable world.With Tigo,we delivered the most sustainable and efficient mobile broadband solution capturing the needs of these specific, rural sites.”

Sharing infrastructure and engaging the government on reduced taxes in these regions allows operators to reduce the cost of deploying mobile broadband networks in places where it was previously not viable to do so.

Tigo and Ericsson have set the pace in this partnership by launching the first active site based on the new generation multi-standard Ericsson Radio System.The suite of solutions provides the capabilities needed to reduce the total cost of ownership by up to 40 percent when rolling out Ericsson’s total site solution for mobile broadband. This makes investments viable in markets with low average revenue per user.

The energy-efficient suites of solutions will also enable Tigo and their roaming partners to seamlessly identify underserved communities in the region, making it faster to introduce or improve the mobile broadband experience of their subscribers in these rural communities. This is the first commercial launch of this solution in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Jerome Albou, Chief Technical and IT Officer, Tigo Tanzania, says: “At Tigo, it is our mission to lead the adoption of the internet and a digital lifestyle in Tanzania. Access to mobile broadband will open these rural communities to previously elusive services such as mobile money, e-health, e-education and e-government, thereby transforming the way people play, learn and do business forever.”

The new suite of solutions consists of:Ericsson Site Manager software paired with Ericsson Site Controller, Radio 2219, Antenna Integrated Radio, AIR 2488, MINI-LINK 6363, MINI-LINK 6651 indoor unit and new additions to the Ericsson Enclosure family. It also includes new software enhancements to both the Zero Touch WCDMA and Flow of Users solutions.

Communications Authority of Kenya Says Not Planning to Spy On Mobile Phone Users


The Communications Authority of Kenya denies plans to use the yet to be installed Device Management System to spy on its users after various media platforms reported so.

The CA denies that the Device Management System (DMS) is not for monitoring and accessing private data of mobile phone users and the government has not asked it to install it.

According to CA, the DMS amis to curb SIM-boxing, which is used by unscrupulous people to illegally divert and terminate telecommunications traffic, not only poses a security threat but also leads to loss of revenue to both mobile operators and government through evasion of taxes.

The Authority added that implementation of this system is also intended to meet the requirements of the East African Region under the Northern Corridor Integration Project Heads of State Summit, which directed each member state to deploy systems that curb illegal by-pass and termination of telecommunications traffic within the context of the ‘One Network Area’.

“It is against this background that the Authority has continued to revamp the framework for the management of illegal telecom devices in the country,” said Francis Wangusi, the Director General at CA. “Indeed the acquisition of a Device Management System (DMS) is the second phase of the initial initiative that saw Mobile Network Operators switch off all counterfeit mobile devices in Kenya in 2010.”

Wangusi in a statement added that the Authority, following extensive consultation with industry and other stakeholders including COFEK, facilitated the set up of an SMS-based mobile device verification service, through use of the “1555” short code for use by consumers in confirming the status of mobile devices before purchase. The set up of the device verification system was undertaken with the understanding that there would be a second phase that would involve deployment of a more comprehensive system that would address importation of illegal devices, pre-shipment verification of devices as well as denial of service of devices already in the market.

The DMS is the second phase of the system in order to manage the menace of counterfeit devices.  CA added that the system is being deployed in close consultation with the local mobile network operators. Contrary to the claims raised through COFEK, the implementation of the system is being coordinated by a team that has the involvement of the mobile network operators, CA and other relevant government agencies.

“The DMS is a comprehensive system that is not only able to manage entry of devices into the country but equally prevent access of illegal communication devices to mobile telecommunications services. The DMS will be populated by data of all genuine devices (a whitelist), to uniquely identify each device,” he said. “Once deployed, the DMS shall facilitate denial of service to all illegal communications devices within the country including SIM boxes, counterfeit, substandard, non-type approved and stolen devices.”

The DMS has capability to isolate and deny services to the illegal devices as they have the potential of being used by those with criminal intent to compromise security.

It is important to note here that the system is deployed in a manner that facilitates mobile network operators to make reference to the database of all genuine devices (a whitelist) to solely verify the status of the phone device before providing service to the user.  This is contrary to reports that the system will be extracting subscriber data for use by third parties.

All mobile operators will be required to connect to the DMS and ensure that blacklisted devices do not access mobile services.  This process was initiated with the understanding of the operators through a consultative process from the conceptualization stage.

CA also added that the system does not access subscriber personal information details, and therefore cannot access personal data as claimed in a section of the social and local media. It added, it has been consulting and has engaged industry stakeholders and relevant Government Agencies in an effort to manage the proliferation of illegal mobile communications devices.

The Agencies consulted include the Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA), Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), National Police Service (NPS) and Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) and all mobile operators.

Prior to deploying the system, the Authority is planning to roll out consumer awareness to increase the understanding of the scope and impact of this system to users of illegal communication devices.

According to Wangusi, the proliferation of counterfeit devices, often illegally imported and acquired by the public, presents a serious challenge to mobile networks and subscribers. Besides compromising the optimization of mobile networks, such illegal devices degrade the quality of service available to users.  The use of counterfeit devices poses a great security threat, because such devices do not provide for effective identification or traceability of network transactions/users. The DMS aims to end that.


Why Equitel Poses As A Game Changer In Mobile Money Transactions.


It is the minute that the banking industry in Kenya is facing a lot of challenges specifically on governance issues, leading to a decline on public confidence after few banks were put under receivership.

However, Equity group which has retained for four times, the best overall bank in Kenya in the year 2016, Think Business Awards seems to not understand this vocabulary as it is reflected in its latest quarterly statistics report. The CA shows that the value of transactions processed through Equitel stood at Ksh219.6 billion out of Ksh1.08 trillion that was transacted between July and September 2016, which translates to a 20 per cent market share.

A few factors have attributed to why Equitel would put up a fight or at least rattle the snake and here are some considering the current market regulations and the industry back ground.

Cost of using the services.     

If we compare Equitel to the other mobile money transfer services, it’s pretty much affordable and way much cheaper. For instance for you were to send and withdraw ksh 5000 from M-pesa to M-pesa it will cost you both a total to ksh 126 i.e. (ksh 60 to send and ksh 66 to withdraw), while from m-pesa to other networks its ksh 132, However on Equitel its will costs you ksh 60 only for the whole Transaction to other networks. This makes Equitel cheaper than M-pesa.

Market understanding.

Both Safaricom and Equity have grown from a similar approach of providing services up to the doorstep of the customer, by first understanding their market and taking the services to ‘mashinani’ they were able to outdo their competitors and gain dominance. These might give Equitel a fighting chance in the mobile money industry as the approach intertwines with Mpesa.

Equitel Market Share.

With this numbers it is evident that Equitel is a gamer changer in Equity Group operations and without keen attention by other industry players, such as MPESA, Airtel Money, KCB-MPESA ,Orange Money and others, Equitel is likely to make a huge turnover on digital banking, in that the number of Equitel subscribers now stands at 2.09 million, According to CA’s latest quarterly report further shows that Equitel users carried out 63.9 million transactions in the said quarter up from 56.9 million transactions in the preceding quarter.

Digital Banking.

It is also interesting to note that this statistics that most customers have turned to digital banking as a way of carrying out transactions, and in this case by use of Equitel. The market share in the preceding quarter stood at 14 per cent or Ksh139 billions of Ksh957 billion that was transacted.

Additionally Equitel is strong on the mobile payment market with its EazzyPay platform which is interoperable, meaning it can accept merchant payments from all mobile money transfer services.



Sprint acquires 33 percent of Jay Z’s music streaming service TIDAL for a reported $200m


Music streaming service TIDAL has soled a 33 percent stake to Sprint giving Sprint’s 45 million retail customers unlimited access to exclusive artist content not available anywhere else.

TIDAL and its artists will make exclusive content that will only be available to current and new Sprint customers. Sprint’s chief executive officer, Marcelo Claure, will also join TIDAL’s Board of Directors.

“Sprint shares our view of revolutionizing the creative industry to allow artists to connect directly with their fans and reach their fullest, shared potential,” said JAY Z. “Marcelo understood our goal right away and together we are excited to bring Sprint’s 45 million customers an unmatched entertainment experience.”

TIDAL is a global, experiential, entertainment platform built for fans, directly from artists around the world. Members of TIDAL enjoy unmatched exclusively curated content that directly connect artists with their fans in multiple ways. TIDAL is available in more than 52 countries, with a more than 42.5 million song catalog and 140,000 high-quality videos.

The innovative TIDAL platform, combined with Sprint’s award-winning reliable network and best value for unlimited data, talk and text, will deliver a first-of-its-kind experience for music fans.

The Sprint-TIDAL partnership comes on the heels of TIDAL’s recent announcement revealing the availability of “Master” quality recordings. A wide variety of content from labels and artists, including Warner Music Group’s world-renowned music catalogue, is now available in Master audio across all of TIDAL’s available markets worldwide.

Why Lipa na MPesa should review its payments process or be kicked out by MVisa.


The popular Lipa Na MPesa was added to Safaricom Mpesa menu back in mid-2013. It gives MPesa subscribers the option of paying for goods and services using cash stored on their MPesa accounts. For a period of more than two year it has become more popular among merchants. It’s apparent that everyone transfer his daily transaction on the platform, when paying bill, buying for goods and service.

However Safaricom has always faced rivalry on its products and service. The Equity bank Equitel posing threats on safaricom Mpesa, and the recent one Family Bank  partnership with international electronic payments company Visa to develop a payment application that connects customers’ accounts and ATM cards with their mobile phones.

The bank’ customers who have the Pesa-Pap and MVisa applications will pay for goods and services that they need on a daily basis by swiping their mobile phones at point-of-sale terminals of registered businesses small and medium enterprises. This new service will enable customers to send and receive funds from other Visa account holders worldwide as well as withdraw and deposit cash to and from their accounts at MVisa agent outlets.

The payment platform targets all Kenyans with both smart phones and basic mobile phone who can access it using a USSD code, giving the lender a wider customer base. Transactions via MVisa are deemed more secure since they are initiated by customers who enter their details, reducing chances of fraud. This one area where the Lipa Na m-pesa has failed. Unless you have a safaricom line you can’t access their serves.

MVisa is a card-less solution that offers customers the convenience of making digital payments at retail outlets. Customers of any MVisa issuing bank can make digital payments at MVisa enabled retail outlets.

The MVisa app will initially facilitate transactions for people with accounts in four banks, including KCB Group Ltd. and Co-operative Bank of Kenya Ltd, according to Visa Emerging Markets Senior Vice President Uttam Nayak. The company estimates 84 million of Africa’s mobile-phone users still pay by cash.

Users of MVisa will make payments by scanning a unique merchant Quick Response, or QR, code using their smart phones. Customers of participating will need to activate MVisa, Once activated, they will be able to access MVisa via their bank’s mobile app or via USSD. MVisa customers will be able to send money to anyone using the service and also use it for payments.

For Lipa Na MPesa the steps to complete a payment using Mpesa are not few:

  1. Select Mpesa
  2. Select Lipa na Mpesa
  3. Select ‘Buy Goods and service
  4. Spend seconds looking for the till number even though it is right in front
  5. Key in the till no.
  6. Key in the amount to be paid
  7. Confirm that the amount and the till number are both right
  8. Uncomfortably wait for the Mpesa confirmation message
  9. Handover my phone to the teller so that he/she can confirm that I have paid

What drives through my mind during this process? In general, I find the experience to be hectic. With MVisa for smartphone users, the merchant will provide a QR code that will have their payment details. For feature phone users, the merchant will give them a number for them to use via USSD.

  1. Open PayZapp. App
  2. Click on. ‘Scan to Pay’
  3. Press the yellow button to see the QR code Displayed on TV.
  4. Scan & enter the amount.
  5. Confirm payment.

That is way easier! Why then do I still use Mpesa? Even better, why do other people use it a lot even though it isn’t the easiest way to pay?






Mobile subscriptions in Kenya declined by 3 percent-regulator

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The report also adds that subsequently, mobile penetration dropped by 2.7 percentage points to stand at 87.3 per cent down from 90.0 per cent in the previous quarter.The Authority attributes the decline to adjustments in the reporting by Telkom Kenya Limited to a regulatory requirement, which defines subscribers ‘‘as those who have used a revenue generating service within the preceding 90-day period.’’

‘‘The alignment saw Telkom Kenya Limited report the number of active subscribers based on the prescribed 90-day period to comply with the regulatory condition,’’ said CA Director General Mr. Francis Wangusi said in a statement.

The adjustment also affected the number of data/Internet subscriptions, which declined by 4.5 per cent to stand at 25.6 million down from 26.8 million in the preceding quarter. However, the Internet penetration remains unchanged at 85.3 per cent.

The Authority has consequently cautioned all the operators to adhere to regulatory requirements on compliance reporting in tandem with international best reporting practice. In order to determine the credibility of figures submitted to the Authority, Mr.Wangusi said the CA will undertake a compliance audit on the systems and procedures used by the mobile network operators used for submission of quarterly compliance reports.

However, despite the drop in subscriptions, Kenyans are increasingly adopting high-speed Internet for their day-to-day socio-economic endeavours as broadband penetration increased by 3.5 per cent to stand at 27 per cent up from 24.5 per cent in the preceding quarter.

The availability of high-speed connections have pushed broadband subscriptions by 10.2 per cent to reach 11.9 million up from 10.8 million. On the other hand, international bandwidth available in the country increased substantially by 17.2 per cent to stand at 2.02 million Mbps up from 1.73 million Mbps in the last quarter.

The report records the number of mobile money subscriptions and mobile money agents at 31.0 million and 169,698, respectively, during the quarter. It notes that 400.6 million transactions valued at over Ksh.1 trillion were made. There were 247.9 million mobile commerce transactions amounting to Ksh. 447.3 billion during the period. The value of person-to-person transfers was worth Ksh. 474.5 billion.

The report also indicates that digital broadcasting signal currently covers 60 per cent of the Kenyan population. The number of free-to-air TV channels on the digital terrestrial platform stood at 63 while number of pay TV service providers on the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) remained two; GoTV and StarTimes.

The number of digital Set Top Boxes purchased during the period stood at 226 Free-to-Air set top boxes; 90, 216 Pay TV and 4,024 Cable TV while the number of FM radio stations stood at 139. Postal outlets and private courier outlets remained at 623 and 1,599, respectively.

The full report can be accessed here

Equitel registers fast growth in mobile money transactions


Equitel now accounts for one out of five shillings transacted through mobile money transfer services, according latest data from the Communications Authority (CA).

The latest quarterly statistics report from the CA shows that the value of transactions processed through Equitel stood at Ksh219.6 billion out of Ksh1.08 trillion that was transacted between July and September 2016, which translates to a 20 per cent market share.

The market share in the preceding quarter stood at 14 per cent or Ksh139 billion of Ksh957 billion that was transacted.

The value of transactions also increased by 59 per cent between July and September from Ksh139 billion to Ksh219.6 billion.

The number of Equitel subscribers now stands at 2.09 million.

CA’s latest quarterly report further shows that Equitel users carried out 63.9 million transactions in the said quarter up from 56.9 million transactions in the preceding quarter.

Equitel, which is Equity Group’s mobile money transfer service, is increasingly carrying out loan processing through the Eazzy Loan products which can advance up to Ksh3 million payable in 12 months.

Additionally Equitel is bullish on the mobile payment market with its EazzyPay platform which is interoperable, meaning it can accept merchant payments from all mobile money transfer services.

Safaricom’s youth sub-brand Blaze signs up 900,000 subscribers, targets more with new reality TV series


Safaricom’s youth network BLAZE has signed up close to 900,000 subscribers, most of them from its normal 26m subscriber count but the firm is targeting more youths to join the sub-brand with the launch of a new reality TV series dubbed Blaze BYOB TV.

Targeting the youth between 19 and 26, the BLAZE BYOB TV, will premiere on Monday 6th February 2017 on KTN, a local TV station. The firm is working with Mandala TV to produce and air the content. Safaricom and Mandala TV have selected participants from Nairobi, Rift Valley, Central, Western and Coast regions to achieve its maximum marketing effect and appeal to more youth.

“Every year, over 800,000 young men and women enter a job market that can only provide employment to less than an eighth of them. We must find a solution to the challenge of youth unemployment by encouraging them to embrace entrepreneurship and create jobs,” said Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore during the launch of the TV show.

Safaricom believes the Be Your Own Boss  TV series will empower the youth to be job creators in a country where 60% of the unemployed are youth. Saafricom has picked celebrity and entrepreneurial judges whom the Kenyan youth can relate to.

With 12 contestants, the TV series will be on air for a period of eight weeks, and contestants will be eliminated each week, with the overall winner bagging a grand prize of KES 5 million that includes KES 3 million in start-up capital and the remainder in the form of mentorship, financial advice and business support from Safaricom and various partners.  Others will each receive a consolation prize that will go towards supporting their businesses upon elimination.

Though the show has been praised for its youthful flare, critics say Safaricom is fishing from its own pond and is only impressing the youth who are its own customers without little impact to the competition. The only thing the show will achieve is giving the youth a chance to run their own businesses just like KCB’s Lion’s Den reality TV show has done.

Nokia and Ooredoo Algeria achieve transmission rate of 1 Terabit-per-second in Africa’s first field trial of new optical technology


Working in partnership with  Nokia, Ooredoo Algeria has announced a ground-breaking transmission speed of 1.2 terabits per second over optical fibre in Africa’s first field trial of innovative optical communications technology.

The trial was conducted between the cities of Algiers and Ain Defla over a distance exceeding 200 kilometres with commercial deployed set for the near future to allow Ooredoo Algeria to offer high capacity-based solutions to its subscribers.

Nokia’s 1830 PSS Portfolio, which helps in optimizing optical networks to meet unpredictable traffic demands, was used for the trial. The optical transport network equipment specifically allows service providers like Ooredoo Algeria to offer more advanced services to their subscribers. The trial also utilized 1830 PSS 500G Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) Muxponder, which carries up to five 100G services per line card and helps service providers achieve superior capacity, reach and wavelength flexibility.

On this occasion Mr Hendrik Kasteel, Ooredoo Algeria’s CEO said: “Ooredoo continues to be a major player in the mobile industry representing the cutting edge of innovation, conducting a winning partnership with Nokia in order to achieve ground-breaking transmission in Algeria and in Africa. It is critical for Ooredoo to increase the capacity, reach and flexibility of optical transmissions to offer high-capacity solutions and a superior customer experience. Nokia is our long-term partner and we are confident that their proven optical network technology will help us maintain our leadership position in offering the latest and best-in-class technology solutions to our customers.”

Pierre Chaume, head of North Africa Market Unit at Nokia said: “We are pleased to take our relationship with Ooredoo Algeria to the next phase. This trial is an important and critical step in helping Ooredoo Algeria increase capacity and add flexibility to its network. The deployment will also support the 4G deployment plans of the service provider.”

Thanks to this new performance, Ooredoo Algeria is updating its digital know-how by better understanding the needs of the telecommunication sector. Ooredoo’s core network is thus reinforced and able to integrate new technologies for better performance and optimum care of the increasing demand for mobile communications services.




Airtel Africa appoints another ”ambassador” from India to revive its ailing customer service


Though Airtel is the world’s number three telco user base, it just don’t get how some markets work and it keeps sending ”ambassadors”from home or nearby markets to help turn its fortunes around  instead of just putting its customers in charge like having a selfcare service to allow me replace my own  SIM.

The Delhi-based firm is reluctant to push its own flawless mobile money platform but has been hugely despised for its fat kid entitlement mentally threatening to pull out of Kenya over what it terms unfair competition from Safaricom but analysts blame it for its own rigid and mean customer acquisition strategies.

The telco maybe be trying to solve some of these problems by its December appointment of Rajeev Sethi as the Chief Commercial Officer for its Africa operations reporting to Raghunath Mandava, MD & CEO, Airtel Africa. Mandava was appointed from India a few months ago.

Rajeev brings with him over 21 years of diverse experience across several sectors such as Telecom, IT, Paints and Petroleum. Till recently, Rajeev was at the Telenor group where he served for more than 7 years. In his last assignment, he worked as Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Grameen Phone, the largest operator in Bangladesh.

The firm says Rajeev will be responsible for the formulation and implementation of customer-centric commercial strategies across all the 15 African countries where Airtel operates; especially across Consumer and Enterprise Businesses covering products and pricing, distribution, brand and customer experience.

Announcing his appointment, Raghunath Mandava said, “We are delighted to welcome Rajeev to Airtel Africa team. With his vast experience across a range of developing markets, Rajeev will contribute immensely in accelerating our growth journey. I am confident that Rajeev will take the Airtel brand to greater heights”.


Kilimall partners with Safaricom to allow customers to shop with Bonga Points


Online Shopping Mall Kilimall has signed up for Safaricom “Bonga Popote” plan that allows customers to pay using Bonga points. With a redemption value of 10 points for 2 shillings, Kilimall becomes the first online store to accept Bonga Points as a method of payment.

Kilimall Managing Director Robin Xie says this partnership offers customers another convenient way to pay for their products while saving money. “Kilimall is excited   about this partnership with Safaricom,” says Mr Xie. “It is a big brand to work with in Kenya and we are happy it is supporting the growing e-commerce industry in Kenya. Ultimately, it is the customers who benefit, which is great.”

Lipa na Bonga Points uses the Lipa na M-Pesa system. All the customer has to do is dial *126#, select “Lipa na Bonga Points” and follow the prompts.

Safaricom Bonga, launched in January 2007, is a loyalty program where subscribers earn one point for every Sh10 spent on voice calls, text messages, Internet bundles and M-Pesa. Once on Kilimall, customers select “online payment” when they check out and enter the confirmation code from Safaricom.

Kilimall will also accept payments combining M-Pesa and partly Bonga Points. In this case, the customers will be required to enter both codes separated by a comma when they check out.

The e-Commerce company is offering over 100,000 products across categories such as smart phones, computers and tablets, kitchen appliances and fashion items among others with up to 70 percent discount over the Christmas festive season.

This partnership will see customers of both companies saving money on their Christmas and Back to School Shopping and will run until 24th January 2017.

Safaricom boosting network coverage in Kajiado


Safaricom has opened up a new network site in Torosoi in Kajiado County, as it boosts network coverage in the county from the current 60% to 75% by the end of this financial year. The new rollout drive is being done as part of the mobile operator’s regionalization program that kicked off last year.

The new site marks a new transformation for Torosoi area, which has not had mobile network connectivity for the last 16 years. Torosoi is located 7 kilometers from the Kenya-Tanzania Border and the nearest town is Bisil, 54 kilometers away.

Previously, residents had to travel over 20 kilometers to make a call. This is now a thing of the past with the new network site that is expected to open up the remote area of Kajiado County. It is expected to improve communication, thus supporting businesses and also enhancing security in the area.

Speaking during the launch of the site, Safaricom’s Head of Regional Sales and Operations in Nairobi East Region George Mbyuki noted that the opening up of the new site were some of the fruits of the regional structure that was put in place last year. The new structure is expected to bear even more fruits going forward for all regions across the country.

“The strategic move to regionalization has become a game changer in the way we are interacting and responding to our customers need. The rollout of this new site is a testimony that we are now more in touch with our customers than when the business was wholly run from Nairobi,” Mr Mbyuki added.

In the last one year Safaricom has been able to bring on stream over 8 new sites in Kajiado County, at Enkorika, Maparasha, Isinet, Ngatu, Pakase among others. Previously, most of these areas did not have any network connections before which means that most of this communities are getting connected for the first time in over 16 years.

Speaking during the launch, Paul Keloi assistant Chief in Torosoi noted that the community will now enjoy seamless communication and even more important, security will be improved.

“We had had several issues of insecurity and the challenge to the community was how to reach the police for help. This site comes as a huge relief for us and we thank Safaricom for this move, it’s a good gift for Christmas” He said.

Keloi added that, “Most people who needed to send money on MPESA travelled very far and businesses were also not growing, I am happy that this area will now grow and also open up more opportunities.

To sustain the site, the engineers will be modifying the site to use solar energy as the area has very hot weather and they will also add a free phone charging station for the residents. Also to continually have sustainable business practices that promote Eco-friendliness, the site will operates on environmentally safe battery that is recharged by an energy efficient standby generator only when the battery voltage is low thus reducing Safaricom’s carbon footprint and allowing them to stay ahead in the SDGs journey.