Safaricom subscribers can now access M-Pesa services through a new channel. Shortcode *334# is now available for accessing M-Pesa services, the telecommunications company has just announced.
The moved is expected to make it easier to access M-Pesa services, which have been very critical in the country, to all of the services’ 25 million users countrywide.
“In addition to making M-PESA more convenient to use, the service also makes it easier for Safaricom to deploy additional M-PESA features free of the restrictions imposed by the old SIM Card Menu,” Safaricom says.
According to Safaricom, the new M-Pesa shortcode even though accessible to all subscribers, is especially targeted at non-smartphone users.
A few months ago, during the release of its financial results, the company quoted Kenya’s smartphone penetration to be at 40%, meaning that a majority of users of its services such as calls, SMS and, M-Pesa, are non-smartphone users. That observation laid the basis of its aggressive campaign to convert as many of its existing subscribers as possible to smartphone users and boost uptake of its data products.
However, until that happens, the feature phone market, in Kenya, remains a segment that cannot be ignored. Interestingly, it has been a few years already since Safaricom stopped selling feature phones through its retail shops network across the country.
The rollout of the *334# shortcode adds to the number of options available for M-Pesa users to access payment services for various bills and services, credit facilities as well as direct interfacing with their banks and SACCOs.
The other options available have been the SIM toolkit (STK) for which M-Pesa has, for long, been available through. The launch of the mySafaricom app 4 years ago and the subsequent addition of M-Pesa services a year later, provided an additional channel for users to transact through. The app, which was heavily reliant on the SIM toolkit for user authentication, has since been updated to take charge of everything.
Upon dialing *334# on their phone, users are presented with a choice of different M-Pesa services including Lipa an M-Pesa, M-Shwari, M-Pesa Global among others.
“As with other USSD menus, customers will key in the number selecting the service such as “5” for Lipa Na M-Pesa,” Safaricom notes in a statement.
The Hakikisha feature, which prompts users to confirm the details of the recipient of a money transfer or a business where a payment is being made, is also available when using the new M-Pesa shortcode.