Safaricom, the market leader in the telecoms sector in Kenya earlier this year launched their self care app. The app was long overdue, seeing that Orange Kenya (now Telkom) had long since launched theirs a few years back despite their much lower subscription base.
Nevertheless, it’s finally here and it’s about time we looked at what it has to offer.
Version Reviewed: 188.8.131.52 (Beta)
Requirement: Android 2.3.2 and above
The first time you launch the app, you’ll be prompted to enter your phone number and optionally your email. After entering your details, you’re required to generate a PIN to authenticate your number. A SMS will follow shortly with a four digit pin.
The app automatically detects the SMS and inputs the PIN for you. After that you only need to accept the Terms & Conditions then Log into the app. You’ll need to turn on your internet for this to work as well as the rest of the app. The app however doesn’t use up your data bundles.
I had problems logging in the first time and got the following error: Sorry, unable to process your request please try again later. Exiting the app then restarting it resolved the issue. It actually logged me in automatically this time. Quite odd.
The user interface is quite simplistic utilizing whites and grey blacks together with the trademark Safaricom green for the design. The start page features a prominent banner at the top for advertising their products/services and below it you get a menu with your Account balance, Bonga Points Options, Mpesa Statement and Top up. You can customize the order of what shows here from the Settings.
|The App’s Homepage|
Swiping right reveals a feature packed menu with your name and picture at the top. You can customize this by tapping on the profile picture or by selecting My Profile.
1. Home Page Features
The app’s homepage has the following options:
You get your account balances depending on your plan (prepay or post pay) and options to either Redeem Bonga Points or Buy Data.
You also get your Bonga Points Balance as well as options to redeem, transfer and view the redemption history. It’s good to note that the redemption history only goes as far back as 2015, and even then it may prompt you to enter a valid date.
|Bonga Points and Mpesa Statement|
You can request to get a Full or Mini Statement from the app and the report is sent to the email you provided during the first launch. If you didn’t enter an email address or prefer to change it, there’s a button just for that.
When you do this you’ll be required to enter your National ID which acts as your password. If you don’t have a National ID you should use the number of the document you signed up with – Passport, Military ID, Diplomatic ID or Alien ID. After successfully doing this you’ll get an SMS notification with the new email address.
The M-PESA Statement is delivered monthly and it’s basically a PDF document which is secured with a password. The password is the National ID or the number of the registration document you signed up with as I stated above.
In the top up section you can top up either your number or another number by entering the 16 digit pin from a scratch card.
Finally there’s the contact options. You get three mediums: Twitter, Facebook and Safaricom’s Selfcare. The app will double as a browser when you click any of these buttons. Just log in to your account and send Safaricom a message.
|Top up and Contact Us|
At the top right there’s a search button for searching Safaricom results. From what I’ve gathered the search functionality merely triggers an inbuilt browser that loads the Safaricom site. Every time I searched something it loaded the site and got stuck at loading. Quite odd because I was expecting it to search the app.
2. The Menu Features
The menu is accessed by swiping right on the app. It has a bunch of options as follows:
In the settings menu you get three options:
- Customize what shows on the home page of the app
- Change your service pin
- Secure the app with the service pin
|My Profile Page|
In the profile section you can see your registered names. From the same page you can edit your email address and view your IMEI and PUK numbers. In my case the app couldn’t retrieve the IMEI but you can always get that by dialing *#06# in your phone dialpad.
The service section is arguably the main selling point of the app. In there, you get shortcuts to all the popular services that you typically access via short codes (USSD). This includes:
1. Bonga Services – this is similar to the one on the homepage but now on its own page.
2. Data & SMS Plans – here you can purchase Data (Daily, 7 days, 30 days and 90 days Internet Bundles) and SMS bundles.
3. My SMS Services – this allows you to control your SMS subscription services (Games, Music, News, Inspiration, Jokes, Jobs, Health & Love).
4. Sambaza – Quickly Sambaza (transfer) your airtime or data bundles from here. The allowable data bundle transfer is limited to a measly 5 – 10mb, which is rather too low.
5. Skiza Tunes – Search for your favourite skiza tune by Artist or Song. If you’d rather not search you can use the categories based on Genre (local, gospel, top hits etc.), Region and Hottest Tunes.
6. Roaming – here you can buy voice, sms and data to use when roaming.
7. Okoa – get advance airtime which you can pay at a later time. This request will only work if you fulfil the following conditions:
- Your line has been in use for at least 3 months
- You have a balance of less than Ksh.2
- You have used more than Ksh.10 within the past week
Note: Some of these services apply to only prepay
customers, so for those on postpay you may want to skip over some of these.
This shows your airtime balance, nothing more.
Opening this will open your browser and take you to the playstore to download Safaricom’s NetPerform app. As the name suggests it’s basically an app that tests your internet connection speed – some bragging rights for their fastest network claim I presume.
I however think it would have been better if they just integrated that functionality within this app. Having it in the menu gives the wrong impression.
You can get the NetPerform app from the playstore here
I presume this is the section where you should get all your burning questions answered in a quick FAQ style. I say that because it failed to load anything on multiple tries on my phone. It’s basically an empty page at the moment. Probaly wil get fixed in the coming updates.
As the name suggests this pages gives you a listing of all Safaricom Shops according to regions. You can also get shops near you but for this you need to turn on GPS. It failed to work on my phone though – apparently there are no records available for my number. What’s the GPS then for?
|Store Locator Page|
Tell a Friend
Share the app with a friend
Feedback & Rating
This page gives you a chance to leave an email feedback in three categories – General Feedback, Network Experience and Fraud Reporting. In the rating section you get a chance to rate a bunch of Safaricom products.
This logs out your number from the app so that you can start from scratch. Once you’re logged out you can enter a different number and proceed as usual. The SIM card must however be in the phone so you can’t manage another phone number this way. It will even alert you when it detects the PIN message has been sent and it hasn’t detected it. No clever tricks here.
MySafaricom app is appropriately titled. It’s tailored for the loyal Safaricom customer bringing the telecom’s most essential services and compacting them in one neat easy to use package. Its goal is convenience and it really shines at that but not without some flaws.
For instance the app has problems with signing in and at times fails to refresh and even load some pages. However quitting the app then opening does seem to resolve most of these issues.
The search functionality needs an overhaul and the knowledge base could be loaded locally for the app FAQS rather than relying on an internet dependent resource for something that essential. After all it’s just text. Or better yet have both, local and remote so that users have something to fall back on when one fails.
Another thing is I feel the app should at least handle the different customer plans (prepay vs postpay) separately as some services may not be available for either plans. Some solutions could be to have separate apps for each of these two plans or to make the services accessible in the app based on the plan one is using. (2018 Update: the app now handles the Blaze Tariff separately)
Other than this minor problems, which by the way could be forgiven seeing the app is still in beta, the app is actually very usable and I would recommend it to any Safaricom customer on Android. Hopefully they’ll make something similar for other platforms like Windows and the Iphone. They have now.
Get the App: