Skip to main content

Of Mobile Money Reliability and a Case for Multi-SIM phones



Mobile Money in Kenya, and East Africa in general has become part and parcel of everyday activities. Often times users of M-Pesa in Kenya are seen complaining about how their mobile money payments (or transfers) did not go through in good time to much their hurry. Sometimes users complain about a complete failure of their attempted transactions. One would think then, "if M-PESA is that unreliable, why not Use alternative mobile money transfer platforms?" The reality is that the alternatives - the likes of Airtel Money, Yucash, Orange Money and Mobikash may not always be better. For instance, the alternatives might imply one driving for a long while looking for an agent to deposit money for the transaction as their agent networks are largely under-developed.


Critical minutes of need

At a critical moment this evening, I run out of power in my house (still learning to match KPLC pre-payments and usage). So having got used to the convenience of recharging the pre-paid meter account using M-PESA, I reached out for my phone telling people around that I would get power back in just a few minutes. I went ahead and used M-PESA's pay bill option for some units of power (business number 888880). After twenty minutes in darkness and not  having received a recharge token, I began ranting about unreliable M-PESA and slow delivery of SMS messages by Safaricom.

Emergency funds on Airtel Money

In the moment of impatience and grit (in darkness of course), I remembered I had recently loaded my Airtel Money account with some emergency funds.  Emergency it was, so I checked my Airtel 
Sim card option and used Airtel Money’s relatively simpler pay-bill service to order some units of power for the same KPLC meter. After about 1 minute, interestingly, I got SMS notifications on both Airtel and Safaricom Sim cards of the requested recharge tokens.

Simplistic conclusion

I waited 21 minutes to receive prepaid KPLC power units from Safaricom’s M-Pesa and 1 minute to receive the same from Airtel Money. There is probably an easy conclusion on the relative speeds of these two mobile money platforms. Those with more scientific minds might however wish for more “sample readings” for the same experiment. Regardless of the ultimate conclusion for such a rigorous approach, it is obvious that the speed of transactions is not the only factor for the choice of a mobile money platform.

While M-PESA may have an impressive national spread of agents in Kenya, the service is often down for various reasons (including congestion).  Orange Money, Airtel Money and others may be feature rich and perform better on transaction speeds. They may even boast of better international agent networks. However their local agent networks often fail would-be customers miserably.

Indeed there are ideal situations for instance where one has easy access to Airtel’s customer care center for money top up and Pesanet ATMs for withdrawals. In that case one might not really feel the pinch of a poor agent network. That would be more so if all they do is use pay pill options for utility payments and other integrated remittances. In that case the receiving party as well is not directly affected by the agent network’s extensiveness.

Enjoy from all sides

With mobile number portability efforts having failed to fulfill much of their promise, people may wish to try a time tested approach - getting the best from all sides. By keeping multiple SIMs - active or inactive, one can subscribe to services from all mobile network operators and enjoy the benefits from all directions. They can then invoke the service from the most ideal mobile carrier in their immediate context. With my little KPLC pay bill experiment (or accident) above am thinking I shall continue keeping at least 2 mobile money services with some emergency money for such situations. When more people begin to get smart in this suggested way, then multi-SIM devices become a necessity. The argument can be extended with much ease for voice and data services where pricing and service quality can vary significant across mobile carriers, taking into account usage at different times and geographical spaces.

Of Samsung (Wyre’s) Duos and others

Incidentally Samsung seem to have discovered the promise of Dual SIM markets in emerging economies well before other manufacturers. Samsung dual sim phones are the only ones that have worked for me over time (4 years now). Of late I have been trying Samsung’s Duos (C3222?) and I think it is as convincing as its predecessors in handling dual SIM cards. Sadly no manufacturer yet has dual SIM smart phone yet (forget the Chinese counterfeits).

In summary, multi SIM mobile phones increasingly have a way of saving consumers from unhealthy emotional attachment to their mobile networks. Gladly I think I recently convinced a friend - @techweez  to take this trend seriously. It is perhaps by recognizing the need for such mobile phones that manufacturers might endear themselves better to the peculiar consumer market in East Africa.

Comments

  1. I am a dissappointed Airtel money customer. 2 Days ago I received 2 sms from airtel money that my account was debited with Rs.400 & Rs. 295. But I hadn’t made any transaction. Those were fraud transactions.I made call to customer care but they refused about that. Details of transaction are given below :-
    S.No. Transaction ID Date of transaction Time of transaction Description of transaction Amount of transaction (Rs.) Debit/ Credit
    1 4091676 26/04/2012 10:34 AM AIR_PREPAID_MOB|UW:Utility Payment 40.0 DR
    2 4091421 26/04/2012 10:33 AM AIR_PREPAID_MOB|UW:Utility Payment 100.0 DR
    I have even filed a complaint against them on their site as well as at Consumer Court site but so far no action has been taken on this case.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Kenya's top 20 towns on Facebook

Social media giant, Facebook estimates that there are 4 to 4.5 million Kenyans who are its monthly active users. Facebook usage patterns in Kenya are arguably strong indicators of the country’s internet connectivity patterns. Over 60% of Kenyans (2.5 - 3 million) accessing facebook at least once a month are based in Nairobi.  This is very telling especially as Kenya's second internet exchange point in Mombasa struggles to make business sense due to having too few users.

I used the Facebook audience insights tool to rank Kenyan cities and towns according to their monthly active users on Facebook. Below are the top 20 cities and towns in Kenya as at 9th June 2015. Rank City / Town Facebook Monthly Active People % of Kenya Facebook Monthly Active People 1 Nairobi 2.5m - 3m 60.0% 2 Mombasa 300K - 350K 8.0% 3

M-PESA Fraud - Agents Beware!

Tricksters and dishonest people have always existed in our midst.  It is definitely naive to imagine that our new techno-savvy way of life is an exception to the age old social patterns. This afternoon, an M-PESA agent was a victim of a new line of M-PESA fraud.

Here goes the story; this is factual and occurred on February 1st 2010 in a peri-urban setting about 24 kilometres from the Nairobi City Centre
About 2.00PM, a lady and a gentleman who looked to be in their mid twenties visited an M-PESA outlet, claiming to be Safaricom supervisors. The two wore valid looking M-PESA badges and even carried M-PESA promotional material for the outlet.  The two inspected the outlet’s log books then left. Note: It is normal for Safaricom to send supervisors to routinely inspect various parameters on operations of M-PESA outlets. The supervisors usually wear Safaricom badges and often take with them M-PESA promotional material to the outletsAbout 20 minutes after the purported supervisors left, an ol…

The Top 10 agricuture Facebook groups in Kenya

There is serious agriculture going on in Facebook. At least among Kenyan farmers, there is those that have found Facebook as the place to research and gather knowledge for application in their agricultural related ventures. Others are finding prices of inputs and produce on Facebook groups. Can one be practicing agriculture on Facebook? I think research and access to relevant knowledge for application in one’s agricultural venture is part and parcel of the venture’s activities; hence there can be agricultural practice on Facebook. I think this is one aspect of information technology driven innovation that Agriculture is facing in emerging economies. As I once wrote earlier last year, these innovations may just matter.
Here is my list of the top 10 Facebook Groups covering agricultural interests that involve Kenyans by membership size.

Rank Facebook Group Name Size of membership (March 13th,  2015) 1 Farming Kenya 34,360 2 Digital Farmers Kenya 20,719 3 Poultry Farming 14,466