Is Safaricom's M-PESA Kadogo a marketing gimmick?

Is Safaricom's M-PESA Kadogo a marketing gimmick?

Just the other day Safaricom launched their M-PESA Kadogo after reporting a huge profit. The launch caught many people by surprise since Safaricom doesn’t give stuff for free, even if they make trillions or become a humanitarian kind of organization.

“Heh! There’s one thing Safaricom is good at; PR. You know, we have two giants in this country that never cease to surprise me, that is Safaricom and Kenya Commercial Bank. However, the merge between Safaricom and KCB that later gave birth to KCB M-PESA is a good thing because of the loans and stuff. On a general scale these are business people who will always find a way of compensating whatever they lose, and the MPESA Kadogo is an irrelevant game that we don’t want. How many people transact with less than 100bob via M-PESA?” Mike Njenga, a Cybercafe Cafe owner in Kangemi commented.

He added that no one in his shop pays via M-PESA, and most people use less than 100bob after browsing the internet. The few who struggle to pay the coins via MPESA, are those that have forgotten a wallet at home or had a confrontation with thieves on their way to work.

On the other end, mama mbogas who are targeted by M-PESA Kadogo have a different opinion about the whole thing. Ideally, most people who buy stuff like sukuma wiki, tomato and onions in vibandas are women and children. Now, women always have coins in their bags which are specifically set aside to buy vegetables in a kibanda near their houses. And in many homes, kids are sent to buy veges on the road side.

“Nobody has ever bought vegetables using M-PESA because most of my customers use at least 50bob. Those who buy them in large quantities usually go to the market…this is just a convenient stall. Instances where a customer doesn’t have cash, she will pick what she wants but pay the following day. In my opinion, I don’t think M-PESA Kadogo will help me or my clients in any way.” Mama Atieno, a kibanda owner said.

Other failed moves

Safaricom has a number initiatives and promotions that have left many people in a gape. Some of them were scraped off and others just disappeared.

A good example is the Night Shift bundle that forced all bloggers and heavy social media users to make use of night shift browsing. Safaricom was offering 50% bundles when you buy 1.5GB of bundles and above. Well, the company started playing the bundles game by reducing the night shift data period from 10pm to 10 am to 10 pm to 6am and capping the validity periods at daily, 7 days and 90 days.

Of course the Night Shift offerings could not work. It was useless. It had weird time exceptions and deplorable expiry dates that only allowed users to browse the internet within the specified dates. If you spent shs3000 to buy a 10GB bundle, you were given close to 30 days – after which they would be rendered useless. Anyway, mid last year the company scrapped the Night Shift offer and introduced the roll over of Data.

Another gimmick like move was allowance of borrowing airtime and bundles more than ones even if you owed the company. This was good. But it never lasted. These are just two offers that were supposed to pose a transformative agenda in the country but failed drastically because they could not cater for the needs of Kenyans. I presume, for a big company like Safaricom to set amazing strides for others, they should involve the people – just a thought. But, for the time being, if you wish to send Shs500 to your friend, send 100bob five times.


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