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A Review Of Safaricom’s MySafaricom Mobile App

Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 10.07.02 AMIts been approximately two months or so(?) since Safaricom launched their MySafaricom mobile app, first on Android and more recently on iOS. I installed the MySafaricom mobile app on my iPhone to take it for a spin since this is the first mobile app that Safaricom has launched that offers direct integration to many of its offerings? To be very honest, being a mobile network that currently has over 8 million smartphone users this was quite overdue for the behemoth that is Safaricom. They really could and should have had a ‘serious’ mobile app ages ago but then again when your minting it the way they are anyway this was probably a low priority consideration.

In a world where there are over 3.5 million mobile apps, its always going to be a challenge for any new mobile app to find traction given that many are installed and tried but a few become daily staples for smartphone users. It takes a really good mobile app that has a strong value proposition that solves major pain points that becomes successful. Having used MySafaricom for a few weeks, I find myself wondering if this mobile app will actually be successful in the long-term? Whatever the case, here is a run-down of the main features and functionalities of the MySafaricom mobile app:

  1. SIM Card Linked User Registration – In order to use the MySafaricom mobile app, the on-boarding process requires you to register using a phone connected to the Safaricom mobile network via one of their SIM cards. This process requires you to enter your mobile number that then generates a PIN code that is sent to you via SMS and you enter it in to activate the mobile app on your smartphone. Once done, you are then able to access various Safaricom services and information available within the MySafaricom mobile app. This process ensures that the MySafaricom mobile app is secure and only accessible to the designated user.
  2. Access To Account Balances & Top-up – When you first login into the MySafaricom mobile app, the main screen gives you a quick look at your account balances for voice, data and SMS bundles. You can also view the amount of money you have in terms of out of bundle services like your prepaid credit. You can also top-up using prepaid credit directly via the MySafaricom mobile app. This means you can see and do what previously required you to use USSD or SMS to get information or services that can now be done via the mobile app. The good news seems to be that you do NOT need to have a data bundle to use MySafaricom to access these services and information even though its obviously a data-dependent mobile app.
  3. View & Redeem Bonga Points – I liked the way you can see the status of your Bonga Points directly using the MySafaricom mobile app. Using USSD to do so is often time consuming and clunky as has been the case for years. However, the other really cool thing is that you can redeem your Bonga Points for various Safaricom offerings from directly within the MySafaricom mobile app. This is a MUVH simpler process than how we used to do it before on USSD.
  4. Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 10.10.05 AMM-Pesa Statements – MySafaricom lets you access mini M-Pesa statements directly within the mobile app but also offers full statements by generating email requests for the same which come as PDF attachments. This struck me as a little odd and retrogressive(?) since ideally you should be able to access full and interactive M-Pesa statements WITHIN the mobile app itself and even select data ranges as well as conduct real-time data queries using the mobile app. I think that Safaricom got this bit wrong but considering this is version 1.0 of the MySafaricom mobile app I am sure they will add these interactive features going forward as many a customer would find it massively useful for them to do so.
  5. Live Chat – In terms of getting access to customer service or additional assistance from Safaricom via the MySafaricom mobile app, it has a Live Chat feature. This looks good but one thing I noticed is that it seemed to be embedded from the main website and does not ‘live’ as a native feature of the MySafaricom mobile app? It just did not look like it was built from the ground up for the mobile app experience so I think Safaricom could have done a better job here.
  6. Store Locator – The store locator is a list of Safaricom shops and other authorised dealers throughout the country sorted by county and then by city or town. This was a little disappointing in that I though such a feature would use geo-location features available within smartphones so that it would point you to the nearest one from your location using a Google map in pretty much the same way Uber works? The overall user experience does NOT take full advantage of what a mobile app can do on a smartphone connected to the Internet.
  7. My Services – This section of the mobile app gives you access to range of common Safaricom services like Sambaza, Skiza, Okoa, Roaming, My SMS, Data, SMS, etc. So, for instance, you can Sambaza airtime or data to another Safaricom subscriber directly via the mobile app. Basically, rather than use clunky USSD or SMS to make these services work, you can do so directly via the mobile app which is super handy.
  8. Knowledge Base – The Knowledge Base section of the MySafaricom mobile app is a feature that contains frequently asked questions (FAQs) where Safaricom’s services are concerned which you can search through using various keywords and phrases. This is a good feature that seems to have been repurposed from the website that helps users find solutions to their issues without neccesaily having to engage customer support

In a nutshell, MySafaricom is a decent(?) first effort at making a mobile app that will help Safaricom customers get better service delivery via their smartphones. There are parts of the mobile app that offer basic content and others that offer interactive services that are fully integrated with Safaricom’s mobile network. The overall mobile app user experience or UX could use some refinements going forward to make it more intuitive and take full advantage of a mobile-first experience.

I personally would have loved to see features and functionalities that used the M-Pesa API for value-added and innovative offerings that streamline how the service works via a mobile device. Indeed, Safaricom could consider building a number of mobile apps for different use cases, just as the likes of Facebook and Google are doing with theirs. There is much more potential for Safaricom and mobile apps going forward and clearly MySafaricom is just but an initial foray into what could be a massive opportunity to extend Safaricom’s mobile value proposition.

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