Is the New WhatsApp Pay a Threat to Safaricom’s Mpesa?

When Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the new WhatsApp Payment Service, the world paid attention.

WhatsApp has 500 daily active users (DAU), which makes explains the interest in the new payment service.  Further statistics show that 2 billion people across 180 countries use WhatsApp every month.

Imagine the number of transactions Facebook is targeting with WhatsApp Pay. Most of the users are in emerging markets.

India has the largest number of users (200 million) followed by Brazil (120 million). Facebook intends to roll out the service in Brazil and then expand to other major markets including India, Mexico, and Indonesia.

How does WhatsApp Pay Work?

Facebook is exploring the simplest method of transferring cash to another WhatsApp user. In fact, the tagline for the service is “Send money on WhatsApp just like photos”

Users will need to link the service to their MasterCard or Visa debit or credit card.

Facebook rolled out WhatsApp Business to enable business owners to post their products and link to their e-commerce or online stores.

WhatsApp Pay comes in to complete the loop by allowing customers to pay for products directly from their WhatsApp account.

Imagine a scenario where you can shop and pay for products directly on WhatsApp without integrating any other payment method.

Further, WhatsApp Pay integrates seamlessly with all other social platforms that Facebook owns.  It will integrate with Instagram, Facebook, Facebook Shops, and Messenger.

Potential Performance in the Kenyan Market

WhatsApp is popular among the youth in Kenya despite the presence of other competitive social media platforms.

A survey in 2019 indicated the 87% of Kenyan youth between 16 and 45 years used WhatsApp daily.

Add the popularity of Facebook-owned social platforms and you will see the potential boom of WhatsApp Pay in Kenya.

Kenyans pay for goods and services in cash. Mobile payment services have been cashing in on the preference for cash payments.

A survey by Financial Sector Deepening in 2019 indicated that 90% of all transactions in Kenya were cash-based.

The big question is, can WhatsApp Pay outdo Mpesa?

WhatsApp Pay versus Mpesa

Look through the window and you will see an Mpesa signage or a shop painted green. In fact, our towns are saturated with Mpesa kiosks.

Airtel Money has been trying to match up the service but Kenyans have proved loyal to Mpesa despite the disparity in charges.

Even with occasional increases in charges, Mpesa is still growing within and across borders.

Mpesa transactions in Kenya are estimated at 40 Billion US Dollars every year.

Safaricom works tirelessly to expand the Mpesa network, which overtook its core business of telecom services.

In addition to expanding to other East African countries, Mpesa has partnered with banks and SACCOs to facilitate easy and quick bank transfers.

Other services that have strengthened Mpesa’s reach include Fuliza, KCB-Mpesa, and M-Shwari.

The reliance on users’ bank accounts is a major drawback for WhatsApp Pay in Kenya. Most of the major banks in the country have binding partnerships with Mpesa.

Hence, the integration with a competing payment service may suffer rejection.

Banks are known to be slow to adopt change, especially where their clients’ data security is involved.

Facebook has been trying since 2018 to introduce WhatsApp Pay in India with no success.  The regulators feel like the global giant is invading the emerging market.

The Kenyan banking sector is likely to respond in the same manner given the duration it took to integrate Mpesa to customer bank accounts.

Read Also: WhatsApp Has Introduced A Fingerprint Lock Feature

The opportunity for WhatsApp Pay

Despite the supremacy of Mpesa in the Kenyan market, the newbie payment service may still have an opportunity.

The e-commerce space has been expanding rapidly in the country. Business owners are doing everything possible to increase their online presence and business.

The Covid-19 crisis has increased the speed of adopting digital technologies in the Kenyan market.

Technology has proved a key element in reaching clients in a time when free movement across counties is restricted.

The banks may be reluctant to change but the young generation of customers is open to new digital solutions.

The popularity of loan apps in Kenya is a clear indication that the youth need an alternative way to access quick loans.

The push from entrepreneurs who see the opportunity on social media and WhatsApp Business may force banks to adopt WhatsApp Pay.

Facebook is likely to explore other ways of funds transfer other than relying on the user’s bank account. For instance, PayPal is still a reliable payment method.

Kenyans have also been exploring like Chipper Cash, which allows mobile money transfers across borders at no cost.

International banks might also step in and fill the gap that local banks create if they delay in integrating WhatsApp Pay.

In addition, should Facebook offer a better deal than Safaricom, banks will open up to the digital solution.

The Threat of Cloud-Based Solutions

Both Mpesa and WhatsApp Pay are currently SIM-card based. Users cannot register and transact without a valid SIM card.

With the rapid growth of fintech in our day, another giant can emerge with a cloud-based solution.

Millions of users may be open to a cloud-based money transfer that does not necessarily require them to own a SIM card.

Consider the large number of teenagers on social media that cannot legally own a SIM Card of bank accounts.

SIM cards also restrict some online businesses from maximising mobile payments. A cloud-based solution can easily expand as long as customers have a considerable guarantee of safety and reliability.

Final Thoughts

Safaricom is a local giant in both telecom services and mobile money transfers. However, in the global scene, the company has miles to go to become a force. Digital innovations will continue in the current business environment.

Many companies have realised how much they can do without many of their employees. The alternative is digital technology. The push to launch WhatsApp Pay is an indication of the direction that businesses are likely to take in the near future.

Kenyans are loyal to Mpesa and its 35 million-customer base is impressive. However, the younger generation may be open to new payment systems that integrate across all social media platforms. The technical strength and popularity of Facebook Inc cannot be overlooked as well.

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Great News as the First African-Made Video Conferencing App is Launched in Kenya

Gumzo, which is the Swahili word for chatting is the name of the new video conferencing app.

The app comes to the rescue of many teachers and business owners who have been paying a high price on other foreign platforms.

After the Kenyan government closed all learning institutions due to Covid-19, many school administrators started exploring video conferencing.

The developers, Usiku Games were also hit by the pandemic. Some of their programmers had to work from home.

Innovation and creativity in the midst of a crisis

The effects of the pandemic have not spared mobile app developers in Kenya. However, the crisis has stirred up creativity as we are all now witnessing with the new app.

Schools needed to keep their students engaged and learning during the crisis.

The need is still there because of the rising cases of Covid-19 in the country.

Business owners need a solution to keep their remote workers engaged until it is safe to work from the office again.

The effects are worse for companies with many workers and limited office space.

Most people have been relying on Zoom and WhatsApp videos to communicate. Skype has always been a great tool for video conferences.

However, the greatest challenge is in hosting many people in one meeting for a long period.

Zoom offers free meetings at the beginning and then charges for subsequent meetings depending on the duration.

It is expensive for companies and learning institutions that require video conferences daily.

Google also jumped into the trend and allowed Gmail account owners to host meetings.

In short, every developer saw the opportunity in the sudden call for employees to work from home.

The prediction is that the trend is likely to continue in the future. Employees may prefer to continue working from home after it has proved effective.

Many entrepreneurs did not know they could run their businesses from home until the crisis started.

With a reliable delivery service or app, many businesses can run well with fewer employees working from the office.

Accessibility and Affordability

The difference that Gumzo makes is in pricing and accessibility. Zoom ranks at the top of video conferencing tools.

Gumzo Video Conferencing apps

The video conferencing app is free to host up to 100 participants for a maximum of 40 minutes.

Users can host as many meetings as necessary but within the time limit. One to one meetings are unlimited.

The Pro subscription is priced at $14.99 per month. It is limited to 100 participants but allows a meeting duration of 24 hours.

Gumzo is offering a video conferencing service at $1 per week. It simply does not get better than that!

Joining the service is free but you need to pay if you want to host meetings.

This means if the business owners or teacher can pay the $1 per week, the rest will join in the meetings and learn or build the business at no cost.

Another amazing feature that Usiku Games included in the app is the compatibility with all smartphones.

Many Africans still have older versions of smartphones with limited memory.

Gumzo is web-based, which means that it is accessible on all mobile devices including tablets and PCs.

Some businesses still use desktops to manage their operations.

The video conferencing app gives them the same opportunity as those equipped with laptops and tablets to hold video conferences at a cheap rate.

Related: 7 Remote Working Tools That Every Virtual Team Needs

Need for Speed in innovation

The coronavirus has been in Africa for about 3 months now. It has disrupted business and learning in the most affected countries.

Kenya is among the countries whose business landscape was thoroughly disrupted by curfews and quarantines in major cities.

The number of new cases may be rising but judging from other countries, the wave of Covid-19 will soon be over.

It may take several weeks or months for some sectors to open up but the return to normalcy is soon coming.

One of the greatest lessons for mobile app developers and programmers in Kenya has been innovation in times of crisis.

A good idea is never enough. You need an equally good execution strategy.

In times of a crisis, you need speed as well.

Usiku Games are known for video games. However, the developers saw the need for an affordable tool to simplify remote working and online learning.

The programmers came up with the app within 8 weeks.

Such a fast development process is impressive but necessary when taking advantage of a passing opportunity.

Covid-19 will pass and may never be an issue after the medical practitioners come up with vaccines.

The question is, have you learnt how to adapt and identify opportunities in a crisis?

Innovation across the globe

When the crisis began in China and other Asian countries, developers started coding apps that would trace Covid-19 patients’ whereabouts.

In short, you could tell with an app how far you are from the location of a confirmed Covid-19 case.

The apps were working until countries went into partial and total lockdowns to flatten the curve of the pandemic.

Even with such measures, innovation was still necessary. The World Health Organization has recently released two Covid-19 apps.

WHO COVID 19 App

WHO Academy App provides health workers across the globe with all the information they need when handling Covid-19 patients.

Many deaths were reported from the frontline workers and WHO responded with an app.

WHO Info App provides the public with accurate information and statistics about the pandemic.

We have also witnessed innovation in the field of logistics. Delivery app owners have had to scale up their services and operations to meet the growing demand.

E-commerce apps like Jumia have also increased their product range to include essential items like groceries.

Businesses that previously relied on human resources are exploring technologies such as apps, digital marketing, and e-commerce platforms to build and maintain customer relationships.

Concluding remarks

The Covid-19 crisis has been a perfect opportunity for all programmers and mobile app developers in Kenya to innovate. Gumzo is enough proof that African developers have the skills necessary to build competitive products.

While you think of innovation, think about the global competitiveness of your solution. The crisis has hit all nations and hence solutions are needed in every country.

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Extra Costs You Will Incur After Launching a Mobile App

Most meetings between app developers in Kenya and their clients revolve around launching a new product.

Let’s say you need a new app for your business or a developer to execute your app idea.

Once you agree with a developer that your app idea is viable, the discussion shifts to creating the app.

You will then set a timeline and agree on the cost of developing the app.

Unfortunately, most app owners are caught up with launching the app. You want to make it big or visible to as many of your target users as possible.

Consequently, the cost considerations end up with the launch.

What happens after the launch?

We always inform our clients about the costs to expect after the launch. The costs you should anticipate include:

Maintenance costs

When your app developer or development team hands over a new app to you, they have checked all the codes.

The developers have fixed all the bugs and tested the app on different devices. It works on all operating systems and is ready to launch.

What works today might not work tomorrow. Device manufacturers update their devices continually. The same applies to operating systems in the devices.

The app stores also change their compliance rules over time.

You must update your application technology to include such changes. Otherwise, you will have many issues and complains from users.

Eventually, you may lose your users when the app is no longer functional.

App stores might also deregister your app if it does not meet new compliance rules.

The right app developers in Kenya will disclose such costs from the beginning. You may get a deal that includes maintenance costs for a specific period.

If you do not have an internal team of developers, discuss with your developer the cost of maintenance.

The cost may vary depending on the changes experienced within a certain duration.

Upgrade and scaling costs

The costs are closely related to maintenance cost but different. With maintenance costs, we are talking about compliance with changes.

A common approach is to launch an app and test its performance within a certain market.

For instance, you can develop a delivery or logistics app for a specific town or nation.

If the app is well received, you may need to upgrade its technology before expanding its reach to new markets.

For business or commerce apps, changing the nature of your business means new changes to your app.

If you add a new product line or merge with another business, an upgrade of your app is necessary.

Some organizations develop apps to manage their workforce while considering the number of employees.

Scaling the app infrastructure is necessary to accommodate a higher number of users.

Keeping the launch date deadline is a short-term goal. Think about the possible growth of your business or number of users.

You may be testing an app idea. What if the idea works better than you are anticipating?

Prepare to meet the costs of a quick upgrade to keep up with the growth.

Training costs

The inclusion of these costs in the initial budget depends on the app developers in Kenya that you engage.

Developing a new app takes a while. You may understand how it works because the developer will teach you as the app owner at no cost.

In addition, you are involved in its design and testing but the end-users are not.

Hence, you must consider the cost of training your staff. Training sometimes includes training the technical experts to maintain the app after the launch.

Some companies prefer to outsource the development process even with internal developers to access expert programmers.

As long as you are developing an app for your organization, you will incur a training and handover cost.

We inform you from the beginning the cost of training. The amount varies with the complexity of the app and the number of staff members.

Hosting costs

Many people who approach developers for an app do not know that a mobile app requires hosting.

Developers will often cover the first year of hosting when drafting their budget.

However, you need to know the cost of hosting your app’s servers.    

The servers include analytics, email, push notification, and integration servers.

Hosting services may require a monthly or yearly payment. The cost of hosting the app will increase as your business grows.

Hence, as you think of upgrading or scaling the app, realise that the hosting cost will increase as well.

The good news is that you have many affordable options in the market including cloud-hosting services.

You can choose the most affordable option for your business. If hosting is new to you, ask your developer to recommend the best hosting companies within your budget.

Strategic marketing costs

You do your market research before contacting software developers in Kenya.

As the developers work on the app, you begin to market the app to your target market ahead of the launch.

You may have some marketing activities or campaigns that stretch after the launch date.

Unfortunately, many app owners stop at this point.

New opportunities will arise to market your app and reach a wider audience.

The world of mobile apps is highly competitive. If you do not market your app and continually upgrade to the current technology, another developer will do it.

You must assess your position in the market consistently. Market research continues after the launch to identify new technology and trends.

Strategic marketing means that you identify new opportunities before they ever hit your target market.

You must always stay ahead of your competitors. Set aside funds to meet the strategic costs to maintain your strong position in the market.

Updating and upgrading costs may fall within the strategic costs depending on your market. Sometimes the only way to take advantage of new opportunities is to upgrade your app.

Concluding remarks

The cost of owning an app does not end with the launch costs. Always ask for a breakdown of the development costs before signing a contract with app developers in Kenya. Some developers will disclose the extra costs you will incur after the launch. Ask for an estimate for these costs and consider them when drawing your budget. The right developer will give you accurate information about the extra costs before the development process begins.

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5 Ways to Keep Remote Workers Motivated

The idea of remote working is slowly settling in the minds of Kenyan business owners. It is natural for entrepreneurs to take a bit of time before embracing change.

As mobile app developers in Kenya, we just dived in and started working remotely immediately after Covid-19 hit the country.

We have shared the journey with you including the tools that have enabled us to work effectively.

Our team has shared the challenges of working remotely and tips on how to remain effective while working from home.

In this article, we want to share some tips on how to keep your remote workers motivated.

1. Ensure the team is well-equipped

The office setting comes with all the tools that every employee needs. You have invested in the best tools and the fastest internet connection.

The equipment is always working. Employees can count on you to call technicians fast whenever issues arise with the work equipment.

What happens when issues arise when your workers are at home?

A simple technical issue can frustrate a remote worker for days. With the movement restrictions in this season of Covid-19, getting technical help may be a challenge.

We recommend that you check with all employees continually to find out if the required tools are available and working.

The tools will look different depending on the nature of work. Provide immediate help online where possible whenever an employee raises a complaint.

Now, you may think too far when it comes to technical issues. Sometimes it is just an issue of reconnecting a laptop to a new internet connection or installing a program.

Do not ignore or dismiss small issues. Have your technical team ready to assist at all times until your remote workers are settled at home.

The best time to check the tools is before your employees start working from home. Train them how to use all the tools they need and provide a channel to access quick help.

2. Schedule frequent meetings

How often do you hold meetings in the office? When you have everyone in the office, it is easy to communicate something without necessarily calling for a meeting.

Consequently, you can go for weeks without holding a meeting.

The nature of your work also dictates the number of meetings that are necessary in a week or month.

As mobile app developers in Kenya, we have to meet severally in a week to keep up with the clients’ projects.

Even with the best communication tools, we still hold physical meetings in the office.

Working from home means that we can only hold virtual meetings.

Although some aspects of human interactions are lost in virtual meetings, the interactions go a long way in keeping virtual teams motivated.

With communication tools like Gmail and Zoom, remote workers can hold conference calls easily.

Do not underestimate the effect of a virtual meeting.

If you had one meeting in a week in the office setting, consider holding more virtual meetings every week.

You can hold brief but regular virtual meetings to check on your employees. One-on-one meetings with each employee are equally important.

Related: How to Work Remotely Effectively During the Coronavirus Crisis

3. Set reasonable goals and expectations

We understand the anxiety that comes with allowing employees to work remotely the first time. We had to deal with it as well.

The situation with Covid-19 just makes the level of anxiety higher.

You want to maintain the level of business performance that you had before the crisis. Otherwise, you may not sustain your current workforce.

The goals and objectives of the company must be clearly communicated to all employees.

However, excessive pressure on your employees to perform in an unfamiliar setting may lead to poor performance.

Your employees are exploring new ways of doing their jobs. The home environment comes with its own challenges including unending distractions.

Set reasonable goals for your remote workers, especially when starting the remote work.

You can raise the performance targets gradually as they settle in and master the new environment.

Eventually, the employees will reach and even surpass their previous performance level.

4. Train employees on time management

The main challenge that remote workers deal with is distractions. The office setting has clear boundaries that keep employees focused on their tasks.

The home environment is different with potential distractions everywhere you look.

The Covid-19 crisis has made it worse since everyone is at home.

How do employees stay focused while working in an environment full of distractions?

In your virtual meetings, train them on effective time management.

One strategy that has worked for mobile app developers in Kenya is to maintain the office working hours.

We encourage developers to work during the day and start in the morning as usual.

In addition, we train employees to log off in the evening and maintain the work-life balance.

A lack of balance leads to resentment from other family members and endless fatigue on the part of developers.

Extra working hours are welcome as long as employees understand the need to take time off.

Poor time management for remote workers leads to busyness without any results to show at the end of the day.

5. Give rewards

Rewards for outstanding performance or extra effort have stood the test of time in motivating employees.

Remote workers are not so different from office workers.

Do not just set and communicate performance targets in every meeting.

Acknowledge the employees’ efforts to maintain and improve their performance while working from home.

Monetary rewards may be a challenge in these uncertain times. However, you can still find creative ways of showing your appreciation for good performance.

Mention it in your virtual meetings, give hours or even days off, and provide opportunities for growth and promotions and so on.

Rewards and recognition encourage recipients to keep improving their performance.

In addition, they encourage other employees to strive to earn the same rewards.

Where possible, give monetary rewards as well.

Conclusion

Working from home is a big challenge for both companies and employees that are accustomed to the office setting. Remote workers require motivation as office workers do to maintain a high performance level. Motivation strategies are important in the current crisis because employees are also dealing with anxiety. Employers need to show empathy and concern while enabling their employees to maintain the highest performance levels possible.

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WHO Launches Two Apps to Curb Covid-19

The World Health Organisation (WHO) remains the most reliable source of information about Covid-19. The organization may have handled the highest numbers of visitors to its website since the crisis started.

A website is good enough to keep us updated. However, WHO has introduced two mobile apps to keep both health care workers and the public informed.

The move confirms the advice that app developers in Kenya give to potential clients. You can do well with a website or online store. A mobile app makes it even easier and faster to connect with your clients.

Let us look at the apps.

WHO Academy App

Everyone has been crying out for the health workers and WHO heard the cry. While everyone is safely locked at home, healthcare workers must go out and fight the disease.

Even with the best of protective kits, some of the workers have lost their lives while fighting Covid-19.

The death rates are high in countries with limited kits and knowledge about handling patients with the disease.

In Kenya, for example, some of the confirmed cases are of nurses who handled what they thought were normal patients.

The WHO Academy app provides health workers with vast knowledge resources.

Workers have access to much-needed tools and training to protect themselves while giving the best care to infected patients.

The app also provides up-to-the-minute guidance to workers. Think about the convenience of real-time support when handling Covid-19 patients.

The best part of it is that the same information and guidance are available to all health workers around the world.

Health care systems in every country can cross-check their practices with the guidelines to determine if they are handling the disease in the right manner.

The number of new cases has been increasing since the pandemic started.

Accurate and timely information to frontline workers is necessary to reverse the trend or flatten the curve as they call it.

WHO conducted a survey in March 2020 involving 20,000 health workers from all parts of the globe. The purpose was to identify the unique and unmet needs during the crisis.

About two-thirds of the participants felt that they needed more knowledge on protection and prevention.

The majority cited the need for on-demand learning. In response, WHO put the knowledge together for the workers in the new Academy App.

Here is a quick lesson. Even with the obvious need to equip healthcare workers, WHO still conducted a survey to determine their needs.

Before engaging app developers in Kenya, it is important to do your survey to identify the real needs in the market.

With such an approach, you will end up with a solution that solves real problems.

WHO Info App

Equipping health care workers is not enough to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

The public needs accurate information to prevent the spread of the disease.

Most of the countries that have suffered the worst effects of the disease ignored safety measures at the beginning.

Where accurate information is unavailable, the public relies on whatever news they can find.

Instead of relying on mainstream media, WHO Info App provides the latest Covid-19 news on mobile.

Millions of people with smartphones can now follow new developments concerning the crisis.

The issue of vaccines and treatment methods has raised controversies everywhere.

Scientists differ on the best way to treat the disease with some claiming to know the right vaccines.

WHO will use the Info app to update the public on the recommended treatment methods and vaccines.

Such information will curb the ever-rising anxiety about finding a reliable cure.

The information on the latest cases, the number of deaths, and recoveries is organised in countries.

WHO has also given timelines for the data. The promise is to keep the data updated based on its official streams.

Using Technology to Fight Covid-19 in Africa

App developers in Kenya and other countries in Africa have introduced innovative ways to curb Covid-19.

WHO predicted that the cases in Africa could grow from thousands into millions.

While many doubt the accuracy of such predictions, innovators have been working to ensure that the cases do not rise to such levels.

Safaricom Limited has been intensifying its campaigns for its customers to use Mpesa payments instead of cash as a preventive measure.

Mpesa integration Muva

Both Airtel and Mpesa have waivered transfer fees for inter-person money transfer.

Other innovators like Ham Serunjogi and Maijid Moujaled have introduced alternatives to mobile money transfer.

The two introduced Chipper Cash in 2018 to enable users transfer money across Africa.

You must have come across a Chipper cash ad during this crisis.

Governments have been using social media alongside mainstream media to spread information about the coronavirus.

Technology has also enabled business owners to continue running their operations.

The demand for courier services has increased, especially in the major cities in Kenya.

All types of businesses have been depending on courier services to deliver their products directly to customers.

Digital solutions like Jumia, Glovo, and Uber have helped some businesses keep their customers.

Technology has also played a major role in keeping children engaged during this break from normal schooling.

Parents cannot keep up with the demands for homeschooling while working from home.

Kids are learning online through platforms such as Zoom and Google Meet. The same platforms are available to remote workers.

We have emphasized over time as app developers in Kenya the need to explore different technologies to survive the crisis.

Our team took the first step immediately to work from home. We have kept our operations running through remote working tools.

The expectation is that with the safety measures, the crisis will end within a few months. What happens if the opposite takes place?

Is your business prepared to handle a prolonged lockdown? Such pandemics sometimes come in waves.

Be prepared for both a short-term and long-term period of disrupted business operations. The decisions you make now will help you survive the future crisis that may come.

If you are not in business, think about the digital solutions that you can create for businesses and organizations to help them survive the Covid-19 crisis.

It is safer to provide solutions that will remain useful after the pandemic is over.

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