Safaricom’s Android app updated to include M-PESA services

Nearly a year ago, Safaricom finally released an application meant for its users to be able to access most of the features they could only use via shortcodes like checking Bonga Points balance, topping up, transferring credit to other users (Sambaza) and buying data bundles. That was all well and good and I even gave the app a glowing review.

There was only one glaring omission, though: M-PESA, Safaricom’s famous mobile money transfer service that has revolutionised the financial services industry in Kenya and increased financial inclusion in the country. To everyone’s dismay, M-PESA services weren’t part of the services available to users on the mySafaricom app. In an era where banks are competing to outdo each other on who has the most attractive and functional mobile app, that was disappointing, to say the least. However, the company was quick to promise progress towards that end soon.

While they may have taken a while to do it, the mySafaricom app’s latest update brings M-PESA services to the application. Services such as Lipa na M-PESA (Pay Bill, Buy Goods and Services), buying airtime and transferring cash to other users are now available under the new M-PESA menu in the mySafaricom app.

However, another crucial component of M-PESA these days, the loans and savings service M-Shwari, is not yet available through the app with the feature listed as “coming soon”.

Part of the positive aspects of the updated mySafaricom app with M-PESA services is that those days of sending money to the wrong person are officially over. While Safaricom has had the Hakikisha feature that lets users confirm the name of the recipient of funds being transferred or a business where payments are being made, one needs to be quick to cancel (25 seconds) should the name of the recipient/business turn out to be the wrong one. With the app, all that one has to do is agree or cancel.

That, however, presents an interesting paradox: the feature can be misused. It can be used as a namecheck where previously users would do such clever tricks like sending an amount as little as Kshs 10 to a number in order to get the person’s full name. To avoid misuse, Safaricom is reportedly restricting the number of cancelled transactions made on the app to just 5 after which the user is banned temporarily from accessing the service. That sounds well thought out.

Users receive a notification on the notification shade for every successful or otherwise M-PESA transaction made through the mySafaricom app. This is in addition to the text notification from Safaricom/M-PESA one gets in the event a cancellation doesn’t happen.

As part of the security measures in place, the app redirects one to the SIM toolkit to key in their M-PESA PIN before finally authorising a transaction, a rather awkward step but one that is absolutely necessary.

While I am definitely glad that I can finally do M-PESA transactions using the mySafaricom app, there are some downsides to the updated app. I no longer have a quick glance at my account information – Bonga Points balance, airtime balance, data balance and more – when I launch the app. Now I have to click the My Account menu to access the same information.

The update to the mySafaricom app, version 1.1.1.0, is available through the Google Play Store.

Emmanuel Chenze

Let's just say I know my stuff. I have 7 years experience handling, tinkering with and then writing extensively about Android stuff. Sometimes it is exciting, sometimes it is not; things can get stale with nothing new to show but I live for each one of those moments. Have something Android-related that you believe I need to have a look at? Hit me up: echenze@androidkenya.com