M-KESHO's subtle hints on the future of Safaricom

M-KESHO, the newly launched financial services product is yet another demonstration of how Safaricom is constantly consolidating its gains in the country while exploring new business frontiers. The financial product appears to be a direct derivative of M-PESA's data warehousing essentials. There is definitely a reason Safaricom and Equity Bank are betting on M-KESHO - that of building on past successes and an understanding of the peculiar Kenyan market place.

Despite the welcome innovative moves by the pair, I must say that in my humble estimation the M-KESHO product might succeed but not so much beyond Equity Banks earlier attempt at mobile banking (Eazzy 24/7).  I stand corrected but although M-PESA succedes to foster a culture of saving among the unbanked, it may be too early to stretch it in search of interest revenues through a financial credit service - which apparently is the differentiating feature of the M-KESHO product from other mobile banking products.

The close coupling with Equity Bank's banking services might undermine any intentions of M-KESHO being the convenience product like M-PESA that die hard Barclays, KCB and other larger bank's customers would quickly embrace. It is difficult to guess how much strategic weight MJ and troops are placing on the Equity Bank partnership. Certainly though, in the partnership comes a subtle hint that Safaricom will not forever extend their business empire with derivatives of its successful products alone.

Seemingly there is a limit to how far a large company in Kenya can pursue an aggressive product diversification strategy before having to 'sleep' with its other would-be serious competitors. Such a limit would then appear as the beginning of hope for companies competing with Safaricom in any of the sectors it has ventured into.