After months of public testing, Safaricom has officially launched its new M-Pesa app.
Dubbed the “M-Pesa Super App” owing to its inclusion of many features that ought to be standalone apps themselves and, actually, real apps within the app, mini apps.
The app features a new look that is modern and more intuitive, if our personal experiences using it over the last few months are anything to go.
With the new M-Pesa apps, since there’s the consumer-centred one that many of us are familiar with and the one targeting businesses that rely on the mobile money platform, Safaricom is rethinking the entire user experience on one of the country’s most important money platforms.
According to Safaricom, over 1.3 million have downloaded the new M-Pesa app. On the Google Play Store, the app is indicated as having netted over 1 million downloads. Over 100,000 businesses have downloaded its corresponding business app, M-Pesa for Business. A similar number is indicated on the Play Store.
The standout feature of the new M-Pesa apps is the offline mode which allows users to access core M-Pesa services even when there is no data connection – either it is turned off, one is in an area with an intermittent data connection or, they are short of data bundles.
“With the offline mode, customers can send and receive money and equally make payments,” a statement from Safaricom notes.
Most importantly, the apps allow users to transact regardless of the mobile network they are connected to. The previous implementation of this had been a mixed bag with the Safaricom app as it needed a user to access the SIM toolkit for authentication, something that is only possible when one has their Safaricom SIM on-device.
Authentication on the new M-Pesa app is via facial and/or fingerprint unlock, in addition to the standard PIN access.
As has been the case when using M-Pesa on the mySafaricom application, users get to confirm the identity of the recipients when sending money to people or making payments to businesses to avoid incidences of wrong transfers. In the unfortunate instance when that happens, however, there’s a one-tap option to initiate a reversal.
For those that would prefer to stick with what they know, that is the main Safaricom app, Safaricom recently updated it to allow users to favourite paybill and till numbers for easy access when making payments.
Mini apps, accessible through the Discover tab on the M-Pesa app and the Hub option on the M-Pesa for Business application, allow users to access a plethora of services from third-party provides who have onboarded their apps on the platform. Safaricom is calling the platform the ‘Google Play store of Kenya’ and it is the one that gives the app its “super app” status. Something akin to WeChat, especially as it is used in Kenya.
While WeChat is a messaging application that pulls everything together to attain its super app status, M-Pesa is, well, a payment platform that is branching out at an opportune time: when Kenyans are increasingly getting online (Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa, at the app’s launch event, disclosed that there are over 8.5 million 4G smartphones on the Safaricom network) and when the effects of the pandemic have accelerated the adoption of online services like the online ticketing of trains and buses.
“The first services available as Mini-Apps include Madaraka SGR ticketing, long-distance bus booking with BuuPass, event tickets on Mtickets, shopping gift vouchers on GiftPesa Vouchers, insurance services on eBima, and gas delivery from Pro-Gas.”
A hangover of what a messaging app ala WeChat with deep integration to a payments and money transfer platform like M-Pesa can be seen when making transactions using the new M-Pesa app as users can add notes and even GIFs. Safaricom’s last standalone effort at this was an app that never got to go far: Zwuup, what used to be known as Bonga by Safaricom.
It is worth noting that, at this moment, mini apps are not yet live on the M-Pesa for Business app’s Hub section. Safaricom says that they will be available in the coming weeks.
Users are also able to send money to multiple recipients using the ‘Send to Many’ feature as well as request for money from their contacts using the ‘Request Money’ feature.
A rework of the integration of M-Pesa Global, M-Pesa’s focus on international money transfers and payments, sees it become very easy to send money to a foreign bank, international money transfer service like Western Union or mobile phone number on a compatible network or access PayPal services from within the ‘Send and Request’ menu.
M-Pesa’s Pochi La Biashara, which allows business owners to use their personal lines to receive payments from customers and separate them from personal transactions for easy accounting, lives on in the ‘Pay’ menu, taking away from users an extra step as was the case before and making it a natural use case.
These same features highlighted above can be accessed as they could previously in the ‘Transact’ section.
An update of the M-Pesa statements we got last year on the Safaricom app sees users get more detailed breakdowns of their spending and able to categorize and sort based on the same.
To woo users to download and install the new M-Pesa apps, Safaricom is awarding every 10th first-time users over the next 3 days with Kshs 500 deposited into their M-Pesa wallets and, all first-timers, 500 megabytes of free data loaded to their phones. For already existing users of the app, like the over 1 million that have given it a spin during its public trial phase, booking a trip on the Madaraka Express (SGR) mini app results in a 10% cashback in the respective M-Pesa wallets.
Safaricom’s launch of a new M-Pesa app follows a revamp of its mySafaricom app last year. The revamp brought with it an improved visual design as well as consolidated various services that were being offered in standalone apps like Home Fibre.