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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Mobile App Reviews: A Review of the Glovo App in Kenya

Entrepreneurs in Kenya have now mastered the art of online selling. Buyers have gained a significant level of trust in some online sellers. Kenyans are more willing than before to take risks and order for products online. The greater challenge now is delivering products in good condition to customers at the right time.

Apps like Glovo meet this need. Sacha Michaud and Oscar Pierre co-founded the Glovo Company in 2015 in Barcelona. The Spanish start-up has managed to build a competitive brand and penetrate the international market.

The concept from the start was to provide on-demand courier services to customers for all types of product. However, food delivery has overtaken other types of delivery via the app. Glovo is available in 20 countries around the world including Kenya.

Features

Glovo launched its operations in Nairobi in the first quarter of 2019. Here are the top features that users enjoy on the app:

1. Speed

You can order for anything from a supermarket, store, or restaurant and have it within minutes. Glovo emphasises on delivering anything that customers order “within minutes.” When you order for a product, the nearest courier receives the order and considers the nearest seller. The courier will buy and deliver it within the shortest time possible.

The promise to deliver within minutes has proved true in some cities and for some clients in Nairobi. While the app owners do their best to keep this promise, sometimes a delay may occur when a product is unavailable.

Sometimes the courier has to try several stores and probably wait in line to serve some orders. However, for some products that are readily available or already packed, the couriers deliver within minutes.

2. Low cost

Buying products online makes sense to customers if the delivery cost is reasonable. Otherwise, they might as well walk or drive to a store and get the products at a reasonable price. Glovo understands this concept and offers affordable courier services.

The delivery charge within Nairobi is likely to range from Ksh.50 to 100. The charge may be higher depending on your location and order. Imagine escaping the long queues in supermarkets for a hundred shillings. Some items are delivered at no cost within Nairobi’s CBD.

The cost begins to make sense when you think of the time you spend getting a good seat in a restaurant, ordering for food and drinks and then eating. You know how restaurants keep you waiting for a “special order?” Well, you can save time, order the same dish, and keep working while the food is delivered to your doorstep.

3. A wide range of services

Most people think of food delivery but the Glovo app in Kenya offers more than food. Well, food delivery is a big part of the business but you can order anything on the app. For instance, you can order for any item from a registered supermarket like Naivas.

The app is not only an opportunity for buyers to get products delivered easily and at a reasonable rate. Glovo has opened opportunities for couriers to earn from the app. Stores have an opportunity to maximise sales without worrying about deliveries.


4. Easy Ordering Process

The process of ordering an item is simple. After downloading the app, you create an account and proceed to order. You can use your Facebook account to log in. The app requests you to select your location.

You will then proceed to the next interface that shows the categories of registered partners. The best of restaurants in Nairobi’s CBD are listed on the app. Go through the menu of the items offered by each partner.

An alternative ordering process is clicking on “anything” and specifying the product you need. The app has restriction on the size and weight of the items you can order. With this option, you need to specify if the courier will pay for the item or not.

5. Tracking Orders

You can track your purchased item in real-time. In other words, you can tell the exact time when the courier will arrive at your location. Tracking is much easier than calling a delivery person every 5 minutes to find out when they will arrive.

As you track you can also tell if the courier got the directions right. You will not sit and wait for an item while the courier is moving in the opposite direction. If you have ever tried to track items with a phone call or text messages, you will appreciate the tracking feature in Glovo app in Kenya.

6. Favorite items

Let us say you like a certain dish from a specific restaurant. When you order it the first time, you can add it to your list of favourite items. The next time you log into the app to order, the app suggests your favourite items first. The list saves you minutes of scrolling through unwanted items and stores.

Also Read: Top 10 Mobile App Categories as Analysed by Android App Designers in Kenya

Customer Feedback

As app developers, we can look at the functionality of an app and recommend it based on its features. The truth is that the developers have done a great with the simplicity of design and great user experience. However, we need to consider the actual experience of customers who have ordered products via the app.

Happy users

The app has a 3.7 rating on Google Playstore. The majority of about 130,000 users that left a review after using it gave a 5-star rating. The experience is different depending on the item that a customer ordered.

Users seem to have a great experience with the interface and ordering process. The partners registered on the app offer quality products, which is important when ordering for items online. Most customers got the items they ordered for as described.

Unhappy users

The app is relatively new in the market. Although the developers say that you can order from any part of Nairobi, couriers do not deliver to some parts of the city. In addition, some customers complained that the estimated time of delivery was inaccurate.

Some customers had to wait for more than an hour to get their items. A few customers have also complained about bugs when trying to order for any item. Based on the reviews, the customer support team is slow in responding to complaints from customers.

Conclusion

Glovo App in Kenya is a game-changer in the country’s online business and logistics. The app is easy to use in terms of ordering and tracking items. The delivery time may not always be accurate. However, based on customer reviews, the couriers are doing a great job of delivering products within the shortest time possible. App developers in Kenya take the challenge to keep up with such competitive apps from international developers.

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The Top 10 Reasons Why Startups Fail

Success in business does not just happen and neither does failure. The outcome is always a product of a set of several factors that determine the performance of your startup. If you dream of joining the top software consultants in Kenya, you must consider the reasons why your business can fail. Sometimes entrepreneurs fail because they ignore advice or are too proud to ask for advice.

We consider a study conducted by CB Insights on the topic by analyzing 101 post-mortems of failed businesses. In the post-mortems, the owners explained the top reasons why their ventures failed. One notable thing in the survey is that business owners gave a combination of several factors as the reason for failure.

CB Insights found 20 reasons for failure but our discussion focuses on the top 10 reasons. Consider each of the following reasons carefully if you are in business or intend to start a new business.

1. No market need

About 42% of the interviewed entrepreneurs indicated that they tried to solve problems that interested them instead of serving the market needs. You may end in a similar place if you do not do your market research well.

Are you selling what customers need or what excites you? You may have a good product or service but if it does not meet an existing need, it is likely to fail. Do not wait to fail. Conduct another research to determine if there is a need for your product range. You can tell by your current inquiries and customer base if the products are on high demand.

2. Running out of cash

Do you have enough working capital to keep your business running? The problem with startups is that you invest most of your resources immediately but the returns delay. Depending on your type of business, it will take time before sales pick.

The situation is worse if you borrowed money to start the business. You have loan repayments every month yet the sales are low. You must be careful with the allocation of resources from the beginning. Bear in mind that it will take time before the earned profits can meet all the expenses.

3. Hiring the wrong people

Whether you are part of the software consultants in Kenya or in any other field, having the right people is important. Employees manage the daily activities of your business including handling clients directly. How did you hire your current team? Are they qualified to handle their responsibilities?

Be sure to hire a balanced team with diverse skills. It helps to hire employees who can handle more than one position when starting a business. Such employees take some pressure off the business owner and help in saving costs.

4. Getting outcompeted

New entrepreneurs are taught to pay less attention to competitors and focus on building their venture. However, as you will soon realize, once an idea proves successful, more competitors join the market. If you have an outstanding idea, do not settle at the initial stages of success.

Keep redefining your brand and improving the quality of your products. You must remain relevant and an authority in your industry. Otherwise, new competitors may come in with improved products or services and outdo your brand.

5. Poor pricing and costing strategies

Here is another challenge for startups. You want to charge lower prices than your competitors do to attract customers. If you follow this strategy, you may not earn enough to meet the recurring expenses. The alternative is to increase your prices, which means that your products or services might be too expensive for clients to afford.

Some of the entrepreneurs involved in the survey indicated they charged high prices for their services. Customers were not complaining about the price but they left because the quality did not match the pricing structure. Before you set high prices, check the quality of product and compare it with other products in the market.

6. Unfriendly products

Your product may meet a certain need in the market but fail to appeal to customers. Entrepreneurs have had to close their businesses because the products were unfriendly. This finding is particularly important for online startups. You must ensure that your products are user-friendly.

Whether you are offering an app or a subscription, make sure that users understand the features. No matter how complex your idea is, you can find a way of simplifying it for your users. It helps to share instructional videos and manuals to help users understand products. However, a good number of your target customers may not access manuals but will instead try to use the product without instructions.

7. Lack of a business model

Do you have a business model? Having a great idea is not enough. You need a clear model that shows how you will implement the idea. Sometimes entrepreneurs encounter challenges and abandon their ideas because they did not foresee the challenges. Developing a business model enables you to predict changes in the market that may affect your business.

It is never too late to design a business model. The worst mistake is to keep going without a plan. Remember that a business model should be flexible enough to accommodate changes in your market or industry. If you have been working without a solid plan, sit down and develop a clear model for your business.

8. Poor marketing strategies

You must know your target market well and design marketing strategies for that specific market. You can read about multiple marketing strategies but some will not work in your target market. Another mistake that business owners make is to allocate insufficient resources to marketing.

Prioritize marketing even when your campaigns do not seem to yield immediate results. Test different plans until you find one that yields significant results in your target market. Realize that it takes time to gain traction in a new market with a new product. Before you abandon a working strategy, give your target customers time to assess your product and trust your brand.

9. Ignoring customers

Here is a sure way to fail in business. Ignore your customers. It seems impossible to ignore customers but just because you are selling, does not mean you are giving your customers enough attention. The tendency for many entrepreneurs is building their exciting idea without considering the feedback from their clients.

It is not early to get feedback from your customers. In fact, the feedback will save you from investing more resources into a poor product. Listen to all customers and assess their complaints. Fix the genuine issues and give customers what they need rather than what you think you should supply.

10. Poor timing when launching a product

Are your target customers ready for your product? You may have a good product but the wrong timing will lead to failure. If you release or launch the product too early, the customers may think that the product is not good enough. The customers will step back and wait for a competitor to introduce a similar product and assume that it is better than your product.

If you wait too long, your competitors may take over the market. Gaining a significant market share after that might prove impossible. Study the market carefully to determine the best time to release the product.

Becoming the best software consultants in Kenya is possible. We have proved that it is indeed possible to overcome challenges and remain relevant in a changing world. The purpose of sharing the top reasons for failure is to help you avoid the same mistakes. Review each at a time and adjust your business strategy now.

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