Safaricom has over the last 2 months offered its subscribers a newly revamped mobile application via the various app stores. For Android users, that’s been the Google Play Store and others like Huawei’s AppGallery.
The new app while, well, new, is also pretty much like the old one. It’s not just the name that it keeps, it also keeps a lot of the other features that we loved its predecessor for as well as transfers to its browser counterpart (a progressive web app – learn what those are here), accessible from safaricom.com, some of the other features that made that app feel heavy and cluttered.
Safaricom walks a tight rope trying to balance our needs and wants as subscribers, placing front and centre some of the things it learned from the previous app that we use the most and delegating to the web app a lot of the other features while providing a near-seamless transition between the two interfaces such that, when it happens, most users won’t notice save us, nitpicking fellows.
For instance, the data monitor, introduced after outcry 3 years ago over data bundles “disappearing” and users blaming it all on the network operator, which rode on the native Android data monitor built into every device but which is usually buried in the network settings and not many users ever knew existed, can be found on the web app.
That said, here’s a roundup of some of the outstanding features of the new app, according to us:
1. All under one roof approach sees Zuri and Home Fibre integrated from standalone operations
For those that have been trying to keep up with the various services that Safaricom provides, the experience has been spread out all over the place and often felt disjointed. Need to pay for your monthly home internet subscription? There’s an app for that. No, not the Safaricom app you know. Some other app specifically meant for that service. Need to pay your PostPay bill? Use the shortcode. Heck, even discovery of something as useful as Safaricom’s chatbot, Zuri, was either through platforms like this one or the constant publicity campaigns run via SMS and other mediums.
Why when all of that could just be in one place and users pick what works for them.
That is exactly what is happening with the new Safaricom app. A converged experience. Safaricom Home Fibre? You can access most (if not all) associated services right from the mySafaricom app. Zuri is also built-in.
My favourite feature? The at-a-glance offered right below the salutation under ‘View My Balances’. I can even pay for my PostPay bill from there. Just one step and I can do that – besides seeing how many Bonga points I have accumulated, how many megabytes of data I still have left under my plan, minutes and so on.
2. M-Pesa Statements
Many of us may have enrolled to be receiving their M-Pesa statements every month a long time ago. You know, that one email that always surprises you as if you’re not the fellow that was recklessly spending in the dead of the night like there won’t be tomorrow?
Giving M-Pesa statements their own dedicated page beyond the bottom strip they had on the previous app has opened a whole world of opportunities. Features, in this case. Modelled after the beloved M-Ledger app of old, users of the new Safaricom app now have a much more visual outlook of their M-Pesa transactions over the years. One only needs to play around with the drop-down selectors to choose their poison.
With the year coming to an end, viewing all the transactions one made this year is likely going to be something many of us do as we try to come up with some spending goals and other resolutions (people still do those?) for the new year.
3. Easy way to top-up using scratch cards
It’s kind of hard trying not to judge people who still buy airtime like it is 2005 but hey, the app is all-inclusive. No one is left behind. Where the web app takes care of anyone who is data conscious or has limited space on their phone or is using an internet-enabled feature phone, the main app embraces those who prefer their airtime in “hard copy”.
Clicking the ‘Airtime Top Up’ tab reveals a page where one can switch to the ‘Scratch Card’ tab and opt to scan the card (once they have scratched it, obviously) in order to top up. As easy as that. Then optical character recognition technology kicks in and does the rest. It makes buying airtime vouchers seem cool again.
This is more of a wrapper than a direct in-app function since users get redirected to the web (app) in order to buy and read daily and weekend Kenyan newspapers. The feature and functionality is pretty straightforward. In case you want to see how to go about that, we have a step by step guide here. It’s a cheaper (at most, a third the price of the physical paper) and more convenient way to read the paper while on the go.
5. Biometric protection
For an app that does as much as the mySafaricom app does, it makes sense to want to safeguard it and not just the bits, like M-Pesa statements and transactions. That is happening in the new Safaricom app. The app automatically detects the biometric features on the device(s) it is installed on and gets to work, offering users an easy way to set up biometric protection the first time they log in (after updating for old users).