The mySafaricom App is akin to a pot simmering with all your favourite Safaricom services, from M-Pesa to postpay and prepay services, all ready for your picking with the click of a button. To discover how best I could use the app’s feature to make my mobile experience easier I scoured through the Google Play store reading the app’s claims on what it can deliver plus the reviews from other users.
Safaricom’s claim is that the app should allow me to send money, pay for my bills (with a feature to confirm authorisation before doing so), top up my credit, access and save my PUK number. Download my M-Pesa statement for up to a year, manage my Skiza tunes and Bonga points. Additionally, I would be able to contact customers care representatives via the app as well as manage all my subscriptions.
The first concern I had before using the app, was the fact that I would have to use data bundles to access the service, which is not the case if I choose to use the USSD service. However, I discovered from the get-go that transactions on the app incur no data charges, which was impressive.
I downloaded the app and its 17 mbs in size. I was prompted to register with my phone number, then a confirmation pin was generated, sent to my phone and it was automatically filled in on the app. Note that at this point, if you are using the app on a phone that does not have your SIM card, you will not be able to register or log in; the automatic code authentication is a security measure to ensure that no one can access your account from another phone without your consent.
The first thing that caught my eye was the store locator, where you can search for Safaricom shops based on your location or use GPS to track the one nearest to you. I found this feature especially useful because I grew up in Mombasa and I am still in the beginner’s phase of the ‘knowing your way around Nairobi course’. Getting lost in town has become a habit, and asking me to find the nearest Safaricom shop in town without getting help from someone is like putting me in an episode of the amazing race. So for people in a new town and travellers looking to buy phones or accessories from Safaricom shops, you will definitely like this feature.
I landed on the My Account tab, and this is where things really got interesting. Being from the crop of people who usually find it hard to recall all the codes for accessing Safaricom’s variety of mobile services i.e. Bonga points, Tunukiwa or even buying SMS bundles. I found that I could access everything literally at the click of a button (oh! I mean literally, as soon as you touch the buttons you see your data, Bonga, airtime, SMS, balance, there is no loading that happens).
Again, the app provides an option to access internet bundles, minutes and special offers from the main menu. You can also view all the platinum services and buy the plan of your choice; buy daily, weekly, 30-day and 90-day data plans, all without having to type a code or wait for it to load.
The app has a tab dubbed NetPerform, where you can test the download and upload speed of your network, the strength of your connection (overall coverage and connectivity) and view a 30-day summary of your mobile data usage. Additionally, you can see the percentage of data each of the apps on your phone consumes. I found this part particularly useful especially for those moments when you are trying to save data by identifying the apps consuming the most data in order to switch them off.
Have you ever had of one of those friends who consistently bug you with questions about every service before they use it? It’s like when you smile they either see a dictionary or a search engine, they will ask everything from what the international calling rates are like, to how they should go about redeeming their long-accumulated Bonga points. Or perhaps you are that person, always having to depend on others to get information about the various Safaricom services.
Well, I discovered a tab on the app christened the Knowledge base that seems to solve this issue.
It’s a learning centre complete with articles covering numerous topics including using M-Pesa, unblocking your Sim card and how to activate/deactivate call diverts. It loads quickly, the information is to the point, in one place and takes off the burden of having to search for everything online.
Feedback and Reviews
The app allows you to give feedback to Safaricom on their respective services in form of starred reviews, just like how apps are rated on the Google Play Store. Otherwise, if you have a lot more to give, the app provides an option to type your feedback.
Additionally, you can contact a customer care representative through the Contact Us tab via the app’s chat feature, where you will also be able to see your position in the queue of people with inquiries. This can free you up from having to wait on the customer care call line. The chat service is available for 24 hours 7 days a week.
For those whose ears have an insatiable appetite for music, you can find Skiza Tunes (music that your callers will hear as they await you to pick their call) on the mySafaricom app. Subscription is at the click of a button; I used the search feature to find my favourite tunes based on artist name or name of the song. The charges for each tune, both local and international music, are displayed to let you know the size of your bill should you choose to entertain your caller with Skiza.
The Flex service menu impressed me for one reason in particular. It improves the experience of the USSD version by making it comprehensive. Say, for instance, I want to spend Ksh599 to buy 700 Flex valid for 7 days. Using the USSD service, I will buy the Flex bundles without ever seeing what my 700 Flex gets me, it will only show me that Ksh599 gets me 700 flex. However, I won’t know what that represents in terms of internet bundles, minutes and SMS. On the other hand, the mySafaricom app makes this clear as day, it stipulates that Ksh599 will get me 700 Flex, which I can use to access 2100 MBs, 14000 Seconds or 2100 SMS, and 1,100 Flex (Ksh999) will get me 3300MB, 22000 Seconds, 3300 SMS etc.
Going through the M-Pesa menu, I found that in addition to the usual options provided on the traditional SIM Toolkit i.e. send money, withdraw cash, buy airtime, Lipa na M-Pesa, loans and savings, there were some extras that the app provides. Namely, the Bill Manager which allows you to pay DSTV, GOTV, Startimes, KPLC Prepaid bills straight from M-Pesa in a few steps. Additionally, over time the app learns the paybill numbers you frequently use and lists them in a separate tab for easier access.
The cost calculator is another extra feature that I liked. It has a simple interface where you input the amount you want to send or withdraw. It then tells you the charges for sending money; both to registered and unregistered users, withdrawal charges, the minimum balance you need to have in order to send it etc. Furthermore, the cost calculator can also compute the transaction costs for Lipa na M-Pesa payments to till numbers.
Another unique feature I found myself spending a lot of time on was the QR code scanner. It allows you to pay bills through scanning a QR code or alternatively if you are a seller, generates a QR code which you can save to your gallery, print or send it to someone and have them pay you by scanning it from their phone gallery.
Imagine, sending a QR via WhatsApp to a client or friends, and have them send you money just by scanning the code from your gallery via the app.
I liked the fact that I can access all the services in one place without having to memorize all the USSD codes.
I liked the speed of the app, especially the ability of the menu buttons to load immediately when pressed, this is an improvement of the USSD experience.
The extra features in the app’s M-Pesa menu solve critical pain points, the cost calculator allows me to operate within my budget when transacting while the bill manager makes paying bills seamless.
I enjoyed the information provided in the learning centre covering everything from the cost of calling, to instructions in redeeming Bonga points.
The app does not incur data charges which is a relief considering that I may not always have data at on my phone.
The ability to contact customer care representatives via the app and see where how far you have been queued is a much-welcomed addition to customer service.
I liked the NetPerform feature for checking the specific apps that are consuming my data bundles (I have always been curious about where my bundles go and this answers that question).
I particularly enjoyed the M-Pesa statement feature that gives me statements for up to a year, this is an improvement of the experience of accessing the service via the toolkit which covers a shorter period.
Areas for Improvement
It took me quite a while to find the chat button in the contact menu and this can be frustrating for new users, making it more apparent could help more people discover the feature’s presence.
Whenever I finished reading an article in the knowledge base-learning centre and clicked the back button to find other articles, I was instead taken to the app’s main menu. Making it possible to track back step by step via the back button will make navigating the learning centre easier.
Speaking of M-Pesa here is how Safaricom Customers Have A Chance To Win Apartments And Cash In The Maisha Ni M-PESA Tu Promotion