Sportpesa, Betin, and Little Shuttle Exit: Is Kenya Ready for Digital Disruption?

Kenyans have been following closely the battle between the government and betting companies since new taxation and licensing laws were introduced.

It is no secret that many young Kenyans are now addicted to gambling.

The announcement by Sportpesa and Betin was a blow to betting fans, not to mention their employees.

Both companies have had a rough journey since the government suspended their licences due to taxation issues.

Sportpesa termed the Kenyan market as a hostile environment to do business.

Kenyans have differing opinions on the exit. Some feel that the betting fever is out of control and so the exit is beneficial.

Another category is crying out for the thousands of jobs lost when the companies halt their operations in Kenya.

SWVL and Little Shuttle

Government regulation has hit the two hailing companies hard as well.

The National Transport and Safety Authority  (NTSA) says that the two companies have been operating without valid PSV licences.

Consequently, their operations were suspended starting October 1, 2019, until they acquire PSV licences.

SWVL and Little Shuttle have been offering relief to Nairobians from the chaotic matatu industry.

If you commute to and from work every day, you can attest to the madness on the roads.

If you are not stuck in traffic, you are struggling to get a ride home or to work.

Should we mention the occasional strikes that force Kenyans to walk miles to work?

Commonalities

One thing to note about the three companies that are exiting the Kenyan market is their investment in digital technology.

The giants embraced the advantages that mobile apps offer in different sectors.

Sportpesa and Betin have been among the largest players in the betting industry.

We recently featured the two as part of the betting companies with the best betting apps in the country and beyond.

Also Read: The List is here! Top betting apps in Kenya (2019)

Many players have joined the industry following their footsteps.

Kenyans have had multiple options for betting apps and websites because the two companies set a high standard in the industry.

Gambling is not a new trade. There are casinos all over the major cities in the country.

Betting websites have been there for decades. However, the introduction of betting apps has disrupted the betting industry.

Betting companies have developed apps with a simple interface and easy language.

In Kenya, integrating mobile payments such as Mpesa and Airtel Money into the apps made betting easier.

The bus sharing companies, Little Shuttle and SWVL enable commuters to book a comfortable shuttle via an app.

Instead of queuing at bus stops and crowded bus stations, commuters can book a ride when they are to move from point A to B.

The fares are slightly higher than the fares charged by ordinary matatus. However, the companies target travellers that own personal cars but need public transport occasionally.

With the new regulation that NTSA imposed, the hailing services may fall into the category of normal matatus.

Image: Pulse

Is Kenya ready for digital disruption?

The need to control the betting craze makes some sense. In fact, some Kenyans have welcomed the Sportpesa, Betin exit despite the job losses.

However, the move by the government on the taxi app companies raises some questions. Were we prepared for the effect of digital technologies?

Taxi apps have already disrupted the transport industry. In the past, Kenyans would negotiate for taxi services with drivers.

Today, you can use Uber, Taxify, Little Cab, inDriver and any other taxi app to book a cheap taxi ride.

Mobile apps such as Glovo have also disrupted logistics and delivery companies. You just need an app to order a meal, shop for groceries, or buy any item you need online and get it at your doorstep.

You do not need to call a delivery company for that.

Think about banking, which was a headache for such a long time.

You can access your bank account and transact using your bank’s mobile app.

Do we need to revisit the popularity of mobile loan apps that have taken over the lending space in Kenya?

Apps have replaced the long documentation process that was associated with a loan application.

Also Read: Why are Instant Loans Popular in Kenya Despite Metropol CRB Listings?

The impact of social apps on business and communication is phenomenon. Businesses now rely on social media to stay in touch with clients.

Social apps and bots have replaced emails and calls in most industries.

The big question is, were we ready for this disruption?

Is the move by the government to tax digital companies an indication of our unpreparedness to deal with the effects of digital technologies?

The reality is that imposing heavy taxation on such companies that embraced new technologies is a blow to innovation.

New players are now hesitant to join the industries until the tax rows and licensing issues are resolved.

Players in the real estate, housing, education, and agricultural sector have had to keep up with the latest technologies to stay relevant.

Were the arms of government prepared for such disruptive technological changes?

Moving forward

It is impossible to control the digital disruption across industries. Technological innovation cannot be stopped because of its benefits.

The good thing is that it is possible to observe trends and anticipate their impact on the economy.

Kenyans are innovative. However, most of the disruptive trends start from developed countries.

Betting and bus sharing apps were established in developed countries long before the players entered the Kenyan market.

The government has an obligation to control the business environment and ensure that players pay the taxes due according to Taxation laws.

However, it is prudent for the government to bring up such issues when issuing licenses.

The exiting companies cry foul because the taxation and licensing issues arose when they began to make huge profits.

The government has enough technical experts who can follow the trends and advice on the required changes in laws and policies.

Otherwise, we will continue to witness massive job losses in an economy where thousands of graduates are unemployed.

The call to anticipate changes also goes to business owners who are comfortable with the traditional business environment.

Taxi owners were hostile when new taxi apps were introduced in the market. Despite the strikes, the taxi companies started their operations.

Business owners should explore the opportunities that digital technologies offer instead of resisting change.

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21 Kenyan Statistics for Mobile and Web App Owners

Data analytics is a big word that some entrepreneurs are still struggling with today. The long and short of it is making decisions based on data.

The best time to apply analytics is before starting a business.

In our case, we want to give you key statistics that you should consider when thinking of a mobile or web app.

The big question when doing the initial market research is if there is demand for the product or service.

A good product or service should solve a problem.

Research also helps you identify new opportunities in the market.

As you read these statistics, think of the opportunities that exist in software engineering in Kenya.

Recent statistics on mobile usage, internet, population, and social media usage

1. About 8.2 million Kenyans are social media.

The most popular platforms are WhatsApp (74%), 70% on Facebook and 50% on Twitter.

2. Kenyans spend an average of 3 hours a day on social media

3. Mobile penetration stands at 91%, which is equivalent to 46.94m.

The overall penetration in Africa is estimated at 80%.

4. 43.3 million Kenyans have access to the internet (84%) of the total population.

The 3G network covers 85% of the population while 4G covers about a third of the population.

5. The Kenyan population is young with an average age of 18 years. About 26% of the total population (51.58m) lives in urban areas.

6. By 2018, Kenya had 47.6m mobile money accounts with an estimated transaction value of 3.6 billion US dollars.

7. There are more than 300 loan apps in the market.

8. In the first quarter of the financial year 2018/2019, Kenya surpassed the 100 per cent mark in mobile penetration.

The statistic indicates the total number of active SIM cards in the country as a percentage of the national population.

Kenya joined Tunisia, Morocco and Namibia in reaching this milestone in Africa.

9. Safaricom has the largest percentage of market share. However, the share reduced from 71.9% in June 2017, to 65.4% and 64.2% in June 2018 and September 2018 respectively.

10. In the same period, the Airtel Network Limited increased its market share from 14.9% to 21.4% and 22.4% respectively.

Telkom grew from 8.4% to 9.0 in the same period.

11. The total cyber threats increased from 3,462, 480 between April and June in 2018 to 3, 824, 068 between July and September of the same year.

Over 1.8m were malware attacks, 1m web application attacks, and over 900, 000 botnet attacks

The attacks increased to more than 11m by March 2019.

12. The number of domain names registered increased from 75,096 in June 2018 to 77, 671 in September 2018.

The numbers are limited to dot.KE domain names. The majority are company domains (co.ke).

13. Mobile subscriptions increased from 49.5m to 51.0m from the Oct-Dec 2018 quarter to Jan-Mar 2019 quarter.

14. At least 93% of Kenyans owns a mobile phone. About 43% use smartphones and 21% use laptops or personal computers.

Tablet usage is still low but significant at 7%.

15. Wearable tech devices are at 2% penetration in Kenya

18. 72% of Kenyans access the internet every day while 15% access the internet at least once a week.

19. News and betting sites dominate the top websites in Kenya.

20. An independent report rank Whatsapp (82%), Facebook (80%), YouTube (61%), Instagram (48%), FB Messenger (41%), and Twitter (33%) as the most active social platforms in the country.

21. Facebook has a total advertising audience of 7.9m while Instagram has 1.9m.

Facebook audience increases by 3.9% every quarter.

Notable lessons from the data

1. Social media is a great platform to advertise any product or service in Kenya.

The majority of Kenyans are social media and spend at least 3 hours on the platforms.

2. Kenyan Business owners should consider using WhatsApp and Facebook’s Messenger as channels of communicating with their clients.

3. The Kenyan market offers great opportunities for mobile apps and e-commerce platforms.

The country beats other African countries in internet connectivity and mobile penetration.

Any person who can identify a pain point that an app can solve has an opportunity to make money.

Even with the Kenyan apps in play stores, there are still opportunities for growth. Mobile app developers in Kenya can help new entrants in identifying such opportunities.

4. The Kenyan population is young (an average of 18 years).

Any mobile and web solutions should target young people even in design and functionality.

Young people value speed in transactions and operations. Social and dating apps should on top of the list of considerations for new entrants.

5. Cyber threats are on the rise including the reported cases.

Software developers must consider the security of users when creating new apps.

As more and more Kenyans turn to the internet for quick answers and transactions, hackers are busy looking for loopholes.

In addition to creating online platforms and solutions, developers need to educate users on security issues.

6. Although the government has been cracking down on betting companies, betting apps and sites are still a gold mine.

The young Kenyan population is looking for quick cash given the hard economic times.

Similar to other nations of the world, Kenya loves football. Hence, betting will always be part of it even with government regulations.

7. Nearly 100% of Kenyans have an active SIM card.

Notifications through SMS present a good opportunity to keep users or clients engaged.

The large mobile penetration and social media audience present marketing opportunities for new products.

Final Remarks

Assumptions in any type of business are costly. Entrepreneurs must always look for ways to measure their performance and follow market trends. Data should always guide decisions in every business. The data presented here shows great opportunities in the software business for new entrants.

Any mobile phone service that meets a pressing need in the Kenyan market is a gold mine. In addition, it is important to keep track of the latest trends. Some ideas become uneconomical over time. Government regulation is also an important consideration in software development in Kenya.

Data Sources

https://ca.go.ke/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Sector-Statistics-Report-Q1-2018-2019.pdf

https://www.jumia.co.ke/mobile-report/

https://ca.go.ke/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Sector-Statistics-Report-Q3-2018-19.pdf

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Bulk SMS Kenya: Should you Choose SMS or Push Notifications for your App?

Bulk SMS Kenya is a service that many app owners do not think about until the last minute. The greatest concern is always the number of downloads. When thousands of people download an app, the owner relaxes and assumes all is well.

The expectation is that the engagement rate will increase with each new download. Here is the reality. Downloads do not lead to engagement. You must give users reasons to open your app every day where possible.

Two ways to do that is through push notifications and SMS. The effectiveness of these methods of communication is the subject of this discussion. Let us start with the definitions.

Definitions of Push Notifications and SMS

Push notifications are messages that an app send from its server to the user’s interface. The user view notifications on the mobile device or desktop depending on the settings. Some apps allow users to choose the type of notifications that an app sends to their interface.

Apple was the first company to introduce the service in 2009 before Google introduced its service in the following year. Since then, companies have been adopting the form of communication for their solutions. The trend has been introduced in mobile apps development as well.

SMS stands for Short Message Service. Text messages have existed throughout the history of mobile phones. However, their popularity increased in the 1990s when companies adopted the service for commercial activities.

Bulk SMS Kenya is a popular service. It has attracted many providers because of the increasing demand. As mobile apps and e-commerce platforms become popular, entrepreneurs realise the need to invest in the service.

Mobile Engagement through Push Notifications

It is important to note that every method of user engagement has its pros and cons. Push notifications offer the option of combining both text and images. The notifications often play a sound and show an icon to alert the user.

You can play around with notifications to include interactive buttons that allow users to respond to the notification. Push notifications are associated with a higher level of user engagement. They do not just remind the user of the app but prompt a specific action.

By clicking on the notification, the user may go directly to the app when a link is provided. Another advantage is that users can opt or out of the notification. Users can either block all notifications from the settings or choose the type of notifications to receive.

The downside of push notifications is that is they can be disruptive and annoying. Think of apps that are highly interactive such as social apps. Notifications for every time a connection takes actions are too much for some users.

Users end up either blocking all notifications or logging out of an app. Such actions mean loss of opportunities to convert for app owners. Hence, the timing and content of notifications must be right.

One advantage of push notifications over SMS is that they are free and unlimited. As a mobile app owner, you can send as many notifications as necessary at no cost. Some companies that offer Bulk SMS Kenya charge after a specific number of messages.

Push notifications are suitable for apps whose functions require constant reminders. For instance, fitness apps need to send constant reminders to users to work out. Users sign up for social apps for engagement with other users and so push notifications are less disruptive.

Bulk SMS Kenya

Travel apps such as airline apps need to send notifications to users to remind them of scheduled flights. In short, if you need to remind users of important activities or actions, push notifications are recommended.

For push notifications to work as intended, avoid sending them in the morning. Nobody wants to wake up to the sound of a notification.  Avoid sticky notifications and ensure that the message is relevant.

You do not need to send a notification every day unless your app requires that. For instance, working out or adopting a new diet requires daily reminders. Make the messages relevant, useful, and engaging at all times.

Engagement through SMS

The alternative to push notifications is SMS. Some apps require that you use both bulk SMS and push notifications. Why send text messages while you can send notifications? One, you may need to confirm the identity of users.

Consider finance apps or delivery services that require user authentication. The mobile phone number is often part of the verification process. You need to send a message to confirm registration or provide a verification code.

Delivery and transport services require SMS services. Think of users that book a service online and then switch off their data. How do you deliver their orders without an alternative communication channel?

Transport companies will often send a message to both the client and courier to confirm an order and delivery time. You can also send alerts or warnings to clients via SMS. For instance, you will find banks sending SMS alters to all clients of new fraudulent activities.

Healthcare services use SMS to reach a wider market with warning or alerts of outbreaks or new services. Text messages are a great way of introducing discounts or offers to clients. Clients are prompted to log into the apps and view the products or services on offer.

The downside of SMS is that they may attract an additional cost.  Bulk SMS Kenya is free to a limited number of messages. Sometimes you may need users to reply to a message, which attracts a cost for them as well.

Another downside of using SMS is that some users consider them as spam. It is difficult to personalise every SMS. Hence, companies end up sending the same message to all clients. Sometimes the same message will appear in a day and users dismiss them as spam.

Conclusion

Choosing the right engagement tool is now easy with this information. The first question to ask before contacting any service provider or developer is, does my app need this service? Will it improve communication with clients or annoy them? Consider the type of app you have developed and the kind of alerts that the user needs. Think about the frequency and timing of both SMS and push notifications to maximise on open rates. Remember that Bulk SMS Kenya services may attract a cost. There is no harm in exploring both tools at the same time to optimise user engagement.

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Google Maps Integration: Benefits of Using Maps on your Website

Have you considered Google maps integration for your business website? Embedding maps on your site does more than giving directions. Try to search for your top competitors online. Alternatively, search for the most competitive keyword in your niche on the search engines.

The first result you are likely to get on Google is a map with the location of different competitors. When you follow them to their website, you will find a location pin on their home page and contact page. Compare the results with your own website. Which business are customers likely to choose?

Sometimes business owners miss opportunities to grow their businesses because of a lack of knowledge. If you are still unsure about this, let us look at the benefits that your business is missing for operating without maps.

Marketing your business

By embedding Google maps on your website, you increase the visibility of your business. As mentioned in the introduction, search engine results often start with maps depending on the search query. If your business is within the location of the client, it will pop up among the results.

Do not allow your competitors to outdo your business on this. Seek Google maps integration services if you do not know how to use the API. The advantage of using developers is that the integration will be done within a short time. Your team continues with other operations while developers handle the technical bit.

Building trust

Sometimes it helps to think as a client while trying to get into the mind of your target audience. In a world on online businesses, many clients still trust companies with a physical store. You have an advantage over online businesses that have no physical location.

It is now time to use that advantage well. This does not mean that you ignore of online transactions. Most of your customers will still search for more information about your business online. However, they will gain trust in your brand since they know where to find you. Some will complete their orders online but a good number will visit your store.

One of the reasons why clients trust businesses with a physical location is handling complaints. If you have your ears on the ground, you will notice that many online shoppers are disappointed because of unmet expectations. With an embedded map, clients know where to return products or ask for a replacement when disappointed.

Connecting with your target audience

Your target audience includes potential clients in your neighbourhood. If not, you need to rethink your marketing goals and approach. Consequently, your marketing strategies should include local search engine optimization. Search engines sometimes recommend service providers based on the user’s IP address. Your business will rank high by location to clients in your area.

After the aggressive marketing campaigns to drive internet users to your website, let them know where to find you. Your target clients will easily connect with you by following the map on your site. Ensure that the pin is correct and visible.

Google maps integration goes hand in hand with other contacts. For instance, clients need a phone number to call in case they get lost while following the maps. Some will want to chat or send an email before visiting your store. Ensure that the working hours are clearly displayed as well.

Google maps integration

Suggesting transportation modes

Google Maps gives users all the transportation modes available to their destination. In some cities, it is possible to view bus and train schedule directly on the maps. For those using public transport, the drop off points or bus terminus are critical.

The routes for private vehicles and nearby buildings are visible as well. In other words, your clients can pin point the location of your business and have a clear path of their way to that location. The maps help them determine the best mode of transport to use.

On the flip side, the location of your business on Google maps can help you make some decisions. For instance, if you are in area that is not visible on maps, it might help to move to a new location. You do not need to change cities but find a more visible building within the same area.

User-oriented service
Google maps integration for WordPress websites and other sites gives users a personalised experience. The service presents your business as an easy and available service. Clients are looking for the easiest and fastest way to get a product or service.

Maps integration gives clients that impression. Your business appears as an easy way of meeting their need.  In other words, you are making life easier for your clients. You might not be the best in your industry but the ease of access will give you a cutting edge.

Google has made it so easy for users to use maps. Your clients do not need any advanced skills to use the plugin on their devices. Your part is to include the right pin on your website and make it visible. Have you not received enough calls from clients asking for directions?

Cost effective

Do we need to mention the cost of maps integration? It might be the cheapest marketing strategy you have invested in since your business began. In other words, you have no reason for leaving out Google maps. The cost of integration is low.

Developers will help you integrate maps on your website at an affordable rate. Do not shy away from asking for help even if your business is old. Knowledge is only useful if you apply it. You do not need the technical skills to embed maps. Let developers do it while you keep growing your business.

Final remarks

It is evident from the discussion that your business is missing growth opportunities without maps. Do not wait until your business grows to implement market strategies. Right now while you are trying to build your client base, use all means to attract customers. Google maps integration in Kenya is for both large and small businesses. The returns are incomparable to the cost of investing in this service.

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Why are Instant Loans Popular in Kenya Despite Metropol CRB Listings?

Metropol CRB is top of the list of credit reference bureaus in Kenya. A financial institution can limit your chances of getting a loan by submitting your name to this bureau. Some employers have also been using credit reports to narrow their list of candidates.

The consequences of a CRB listing are supposed to push defaulters to fulfil their obligations. Some financial institutions use them as a way of reminding borrowers to pay their dues on time. However, many Kenyans seem unbothered with CRB listings.

The demand for unsecured loans has been increasing over the years. Banks have been very aggressive in selling these loans to their clients. The target for such loans is, in most cases, salaried customers. It is easy to deduct instalments directly from their paycheck.

The introduction of loan apps has increased the popularity of instant loans. You can hardly scroll your phone without interruption of an ad for a loan app. Thousands of Kenyans are downloading these apps to get quick cash.

The repayment period for most mobile loans is stretched over a month. The possibility of repaying and getting a new loan immediately keeps many borrowers hooked. The new loan may be a higher amount depending on the app.

Read Also: The Top 5 Instant Loan Apps in Kenya

For most loan apps, repaying on time means that you can grow your credit limit. Hence, borrowers strive to repay on the due date and then borrow almost immediately. The sad part is that most borrowers have several loans from different apps.

Having several loans at the same time means that the borrower is borrowing from one to pay the other. In addition, Kenyans are losing lots of money in terms of interest rates. The game ends when one is unable to keep up with the interest rates and defaults.

Lenders follow the legal procedure to demand repayment. Eventually, defaulters end up at Metropol CRB Kenya or Transunion CRB. However, the effects of defaulting do not seem to deter Kenyans from seeking new loans.

Metropol CRB Kenya

Do lenders still check the credit score of borrowers? While are instant loans still popular even with credit reference bureaus in place?

1. Ease of access

Many Kenyans borrow simply because they can. The ads for instant loans are so enticing and convincing. As the competition among lenders rise, creative ads have flooded the television stations. You come across several billboards as you drive around reminding you of an easy loan.

The convenience of applying on a mobile device is also inviting. The processing is simple, private, and fast. In fact, loan apps process requests within minutes. The process is even faster for borrowers with a clean financial record.

Banks have also improved the process of issuing unsecured loans. Partnerships with mobile money services such as M-pesa and Airtel Money have simplified lending. The highest percentage of Mpesa customers has tried the Mshwari services.

Safaricom’s partnership with Equity Bank and KCB has made it easy for Kenyans to access unsecured loans. Most lenders target business owners but end up with individuals. The trend will continue as other banks and SACCOs explore such partnership.

2. Harsh economic times

Kenyans are not just borrowing for the fun of it. The tough economic times have made instant loans an easy option for many families. The high unemployment rate among young people has turned them into borrowers.

As Kenyans continue to raise alarm concerning the huge government loans, the effects are trickling down to household. High taxation rates and high lending rates have slowed the growth of businesses.

Have you noticed the timing of advertisement for instant loans? They seem to pop up when you really need cash. Well, the ads are meant to do just that, entice you to apply for a quick loan. You are not alone. Thousands make the same decision every month.

READ ALSO: Top 10 Mobile App Categories as Analysed by Android App Designers in Kenya

3. No collateral required

Many defaulters whose names appear on Transunion CRB or Metropol CRB owe small amounts. Banks and other lenders do not require any security when issuing instant loans. A good credit score is the most important requirement.

If you dream of owning a loan app, CRB integration is necessary. You cannot rely on a client’s income alone to determine creditworthiness. Some app owners ignore bad credit but compensate the convenience with high interest rates.

Security is necessary for large amounts of money. However, most borrowers seeking instant loans need less than Ksh.50,000. Most loan apps limit the loanable amount at this level. It takes a while to qualify for the maximum amount.

4. Flexible repayment periods

Borrowers have a month to repay instant loans. The promise of a higher loan limit encourages borrowers to repay on time. Some mobile apps offer loans payable within 3 weeks. As long as the loan is paid on time, the borrower does not incur any penalties.

A month is a long time for small amounts. However, as the loan amount increases, repaying within a month with the interest becomes a challenge. Sometimes lenders reduce the loan amount drastically without informing the borrowers.

For the borrowers who repay to borrow again, such changes affect their ability to repay other loans. The result is several months of constant reminders to repay. When lenders exhaust all means of recovering their money, they list the default with a credit reference bureau.

5. Data security

When mobile loans were fast introduced, many borrowers were concerned about their personal information. The concern is still there but lenders have managed to convince borrowers of data security. Most app owners guarantee the same level of security as banks.

While security remains a concern, the pressing needs sometimes overshadow the concern. Borrowers are on many occasioned concerned about the quickest solution. Nevertheless, financial institutions play their part in securing personal data.

Our final thoughts

Instant loans will continue to trend as long as the competition in the financial markets remains. Every bank wants a big share while many SACCOs have transformed into banks. You too can be part of the big players. We help institutions and individuals develop agile loan apps.

Muva offers Metropol CRB integration and other bureaus as well. However, you need to educate your borrowers on the right reasons for applying for loans. It is easy to share financial tips when lending through a loan app.

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