In every ten transactions carried out in Kenya, eight will be through cash payment. Despite the obvious risks and inconveniences associated with cash-based transactions, conventional cashless transactions options like credit and debit cards do not seem to appeal much to the masses.
That is largely contributed to by the fact that a good number of Kenyans do not have bank accounts. The banking service in itself has not yet penetrated the general market; albeit significant progress has been made over the recent years.
However, mobile money services, particularly from the leading mobile carrier Safaricom have seen widespread use and adaptation across the market. Safaricom’s mobile money, M-Pesa is widely used across the market.
Value addition service: Lipa na M-Pesa
Its value addition services such as ‘Lipa na M-Pesa’; a service that allows consumers purchase for good and services, in addition, to paying for their utility bills cashless seems to be the closest thing to cashless payment that masses are using in Kenya. ‘Lipa na M-Pesa’ allow consumers to pay for goods, services, and utility bills from balances in their mobile wallet, through their phones.
Lipa na M-pesa service is a convenient service, as consumers do not have to walk around with cash in their pocket. However, the process of taking out your phone, dialing through the menus when at a Point of Sale (PoS) could be faster and efficient.
NFC-based Cards for Cashless Payments
Thus, Safaricom is currently doing some dry runs on PIN-based, ‘Tap-and-Go cards powered by NFC technology synced to the mobile money wallet M-Pesa. As it works out, consumers at a PoS point can just swipe their card, key in their PIN and be gone. This will hasten the payment process thereby reducing queue at the checkout points, and will be a great stride towards making Kenya a cashless economy.
This beta program is currently being tested among the telecom’s staffs. After which it will be further extended out to university students before finally being rolled out to the general consumer market. At such a time, consumers will be able to make cashless payment using the NFC Cards synced with their mobile money wallet, M-Pesa.
“As the M-Pesa ecosystem continues to expand, we continue to test the boundaries of the service to identify how we can continue to extend the gains of the platform to an increasing number of customers and businesses.” – Bob Collymore, the CEO of Safaricom.