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Safaricom home fiber customers receive speed upgrade, here are the new bandwidth speeds

Safaricom has increased home fiber internet speeds on its existing customers at the same rate as before. Customers on the low tier bronze package that used to get 5mbs will now have 8mbps for the same amount. The deal is now more interesting for top tier customers who used to have their speeds capped at 40mbps, they’ll now have 100mbps to work with.

After the pandemic happened, most employers encouraged staff to work from home, as a means that would support social distancing guidelines announced by the government. As a result, demand for data rose to the highest levels in years. It should also be noted that consumers started relying on online services to keep themselves occupied during the pandemic.

Steaming services like Netflix grew exponentially, and at some point, had to hire more staff to keep up with the demand. We also a report from Mastercard that showed Kenyans in particular resorted to online classes as well as online shopping during the period.

Safaricom has had negative impact on voice and text revenue, which continue to spiral downwards. The telco has therefore increased emphasis on data and MPESA to mitigate the negative impact. Currently, Safaricom is going toes to toes with Zuku in home fixed internet.

Below are new Safaricom data offering (effective 1st March 2021)

BronzeSilverGoldDiamond
Old Package Speed5 Mbps10 Mbps20 Mbps40 Mbps
Speeds Effective 1st March 20218 Mbps20 Mbps40 Mbps100 Mbps
Price Effective 1st March 2021KES 2,900KES 3,999KES 5,999KES 11,999
Secure NetAt extra feeAt extra feeIncludedIncluded

Digital lenders now restrict loan facilities to Kenyans with good repayment history

After the Central Bank of Kenya issued directives restricting unregulated digital mobile lenders from forwarding names of defaulters to credit reference bureaus, the sector has embarked on issued mobile loan facilities, but to only those Kenyans with good repayment history. The popularity of these lending apps had grown among Kenyans immensely, due to their nature of offering quick loans without any form of collateral. In some cases, all someone had to do was to provide access to contact list on their android mobile phones and a copy of MPESA statement with the reason of the loan, and it could be processed in minutes.

Instead of going out of businesses following the directive from the CBK, some unregulated digital mobile lenders resorted to locking out majority of Kenyans they deemed high-risk or with poor loan repayment. According to the sector’s chairman, Kevin Mutiso, they firms ended offering loans sometimes in March of 2020, but later resumed allowing only borrowers with a good repayment history.

Mutiso further said they had to write off, all bad loans and are currently only lending to best customers, those who understand they’ll need to pay. According to the Digital Lenders Association Chairman, most borrowers had no intention of paying back when requesting for these loans. Mutiso is also hopeful to return in the market once regulations manning the sector are passed in the parliament.

According to a research done by Digital Credit, Financial Literacy and Household indebtedness, digital borrowers are twice as likely to default on loans as those who take traditional loans, mainly because they tend to take multiple loans for consumption. A large number of loans defaulted so far, estimated to be in excess of 90 percent, were taken from digital mobile lenders.

Digital lender’s popularity rose tremendously, despite having some of the industries exorbitant interest rates. Notably, low-income households were lured in the sector with very accessible loan facilities that were later put up for recovery with very aggressive recovery methods such as lifetime SMS notifications.  

Mastercard, UNICAF partner to offer learners in Africa 75 percent online scholarships

Mastercard and UNICAF have forged a partnership that will see cardholders in several African countries benefit from 75 percent scholarships on internationally recognized degree programs. UNICAF is renowned for its online based learning programs as well as campus-based programs from partner Universities. The partnership is expected to last for two years, during which learners from 12 African counties with Mastercard branded cards will receive scholarships for both online and Institution based degree programs.

Card holders with either Mastercard Gold, Platinum as well as World and World Elite from 12 African countries including Kenya, Ghana, Malawi, Somalia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia, Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda will be eligible for scholarships on various recognized degree programs offered by Unicaf. The programs can either be from any of the Unicaf’s partner universities or online based which will only require successful candidates to pay 25 percent of the course amount, payable in flexible monthly payments.

According to a recent Mastercard study on consumer spending, consumers are now opting for online based studying in acquiring new skills as they embrace the new normal brought forth by the pandemic. In the recent report by Mastercard, consumers in Nigeria opting for online Universities account for 50 percent, 48 percent in Ghana and 47 percent here in Kenya.

Speaking on the partnership, Dr. Nicos Nicolaou CEO of Unicaf said the institution is committed to giving Mastercard customers internationally recognized Bachelor, Masters and Doctoral degrees at a fraction of the cost, through the partnership. He further said the deal will avail degree earning opportunities to Mastercard customers.  

Mastercard West Africa Country Manager Ebehijie Momoh said they were excited to partner with UNICAF in offering its premium customers access to internationally recognized degrees at a discount. Momoh further acknowledged that as consumers in the regions continue to favor online learning, the partnership will show Mastercard’s dedication to premium card holders by offering value through lifestyle benefits.

Safaricom adds Forward Travelers matatu’s to its cashless fare collection platform

Commuters plying Nairobi city using Forward Travelers Matatu’s will now pay for their fares through Lipa na Mpesa facility, after the Sacco partnered with Safaricom. MPESA fare collection facility will become available immediately, in over 70 vehicles within the Sacco. Forward Travelers Sacco operate public service vehicles plying along Juja road, Kangundo and Malaa routes. In addition, Safaricom seeks to install the facility in over 400 matatus plying Kayole route in the coming weeks.

The service which will be powered by Simple Fare – a mobile and financial integration technology developed by Netcen Interactives, will enable commuters to pay for their fares through MPESA’s Lipa na MPESA facility and will reflect immediately on the bus crews’ phones.

Speaking on the partnership, Safaricom’s Chief Executive Officer Peter Ndegwa said, MPESA was becoming a favored method of making payments and fare collections for commuters and Matatus. Ndegwa further added, MPESA’s popularity had made it necessary to forge partnerships with the public service transport sector to give them solutions that make it easy to collect and reconcile payments. These solutions will in turn empower them and lead to efficient business operation, added Ndegwa.

How Simple Fare works

Matatu operators who use Simple Fare platform will be issued with daily reports on fare collection, withdrawals made to their MPESA accounts. The service is available on all types of handsets as well as on an online platform.

We recently announced on firms licensed by the NTSA to offer cashless fare collection in public service vehicles which included Safaricom. Since then, more operators are embracing the technology, given it offers an ample way to help eradicate the spread of Covid-19 by avoiding handling cash.

Speaking on the partnership, the Chief Executive Officer of Netcen Ephantus Thuku said the platform was aiding the fight against the pandemic as well as facilitating seamless interactions across the ecosystem. In addition, Thuku said it will help Matatu owners in tracking their investments while SACCO members monitor their member’s activities.

After signing Forward Travelers Sacco, the total number of vehicles currently using the cashless platform is now way over 400. At the moment, the platform is available in more than 300 vehicles belonging to City Star Shuttle vehicles in Nairobi.

Study finds 79 percent of Kenyans are shopping more online since the pandemic happened

According to a consumer study done by Mastercard, about 79 percent of Kenyans are now shopping online compared to pre-pandemic era. The statistics represents an impressive four out of five of Kenyan shoppers surveyed. After the pandemic happened, Kenyans are now preferring to shop online for items like apparel, healthcare, banking as well as other FMCG (fast moving consumer goods).

The study also found that Data was amongst items with highest surge, out of the surveyed Kenyans, close to 92 percent said they had paid for data top ups online. Clothing and apparel came in second at 67 percent, while more than 56 percent said they had bought electronics such as computers and other equipment’s online.

To curb the spread of the corona virus, the Kenyan government issued a social distancing directive that encouraged Kenyans to shop online, make cashless transactions and avoid unnecessary travel to crowded areas such as shopping malls. As a result, online shopping platforms such as Jumia became their preferred platforms, hence a recorded increase in online shopping activities.

Since there weren’t many established online shopping platforms, most Kenyans turned to social media to find attractive products at best deals. According to the Mastercard study, 78 percent and 56 percent of respondents discovered new sellers on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram respectively.

Other factors that influenced how Kenyans shopped online included payment methods, with a recorded 84 percent acknowledging it had an impact on who they chose to buy from.

Emergence of Virtual Experiences 

As a result of the pandemic, Kenyans adopted new approaches in dealing with the new normal, including entertainment as well as learning how to dance online. The report indicates that 86 percent of respondents were using the period as a positive learning experience, 71 percent said they had taken a virtual cooking class, 30 percent started learning a new language and 43 percent learnt how to dance online.

Additionally, 51 percent pursuit Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects, while 38 percent took make up tutorials online. The report indicates that shoppers are shunning away from traditional retail in favor of contact-free and digital transactions online. As a result, e-tailers and businesses in Kenya are challenged to leverage on they new normal and shift towards online shopping to deliver fast, convenient and secure transactions.

According to Mastercard Vice President, Products in Sub Saharan Africa Kari Tukur, the post-COVID-19 environment is witnessing an undisputable transformation in the way everyday transactions are being conducted. Tukur further said that as people continue to favor e-commerce for their shopping, businesses who will remain relevant must ensure their customers continue to enjoy a safe, convenient and secure experience when shopping with them. Tukur also noted that Mastercard was leveraging its network, insights, technology and partnerships with fintechs, banks and other key players across Kenya to support businesses as they make most of this new reality and optimize to thrive.

Consequently, consumers are keen with associated online risks, making secure checkouts fundamental to good shopping experience. Tukur said the company was working to eliminate online fraud and protect retailers from data breaches, while ensuring that consumers still enjoy a convenient and hassle-free payment experience. Mastercard rolled out its patented tokenization technology across the region, which encrypts consumer data by replacing card numbers with digital tokens. This technology eliminates unintended usage at any other location and provides additional security and peace of mind for consumers and merchants alike, resulting in higher approval rates while minimizing online fraud.   

Huawei Y7a goes on preorder in Kenya with a free Bluetooth headset and free 1 year 15 cloud storage

Recently announced Huawei Y7a is now available for preorder here in Kenya, the company has spiced up a lucrative deal for consumers who preorder with a free Bluetooth headset worth KS 2,499 plus 15GB worth of cloud storage for free. The handset comes with an impressive 5000mAh battery coupled with fast charging capability.

Huawei Y7a is expected to impress consumers with its ability to charge in minutes, allowing them to fill up the battery juice as fast as possible whenever they can. This is thanks to a 22.5w Huawei SuperCharge technology which is touted to provide two hours of video watching with just a 10-minute charge.

Speaking on the preorder, Huawei Mobile Kenya head Jim Zhujie said the Y-series will continue to impress consumers with an excellent reputation. Zhujie further said the device had borrowed values including a range of notable options from the Y-series. Zhujie concluded by saying the device was packaged in a stylish design and is expected to meet entertainment, social and digital lifestyle of the new generation.

Specifications

Under the hood, Y7a packs a 5000mAh battery, 48MP AI camera and a large 6.67inches display panel. The rear camera setup consists of 48 MP primary sensor, 8 MP – 120° Ultra-Wide-Angle Lens, 2 MP Depth Lens and 2 MP Macro Lens. Users can get the device in 128GB of internal storage which can be expanded up to 512GB with an external a MicroSD card. There’s 4GB of RAM onboard.

Vivo Y20s officially launched in the Kenyan market, comes with 5000mAh battery for Ksh 20,999

Vivo smartphone has officially unveiled the Y20s with a 5000mAh battery and 18w FlashCharge technology in the Kenyan market. The device adds some fireworks to an already popular Y-series lineup, banking on a long-lasting battery with FlashCharge technology to propel its success in the crowded android world. Vivo smartphone has had some tremendous success since it was started and has taken an impressive 5th position in a world that has immensely shifted mobile according to data released by the International Data Corporation.

Data from IDC indicate the company is currently held at 8.6 percent of the smartphone market share with shipments said to exceed 110 million devices in the year 2020. The numbers are particularly impressive given most phone manufacturers experienced a downtime caused by the corona virus. It maintained positive numbers in shipments despite the pandemic.

According to the company, its global success is expected to influence market share in Kenya, given its fair priced devices with some amazing internals. According to Vivo Smartphone Kenya Brand and communications manager James Irungu, the company has enjoyed success in a rather competitive market because of its persistence to tap into specific consumer behaviors. Irungu further added the company is working relentlessly to produce stylish and dynamic products that meet diverse market segments.

The device falls within the budget segment with a starting price tag of Ksh. 20,999 here in Kenya. it has some interesting specifications aimed at those who need a good smartphone with a larger battery capacity. Additionally, the Vivo Y20s comes with FlashCaharge technology that will power enough battery juice to end the day in minutes.

Under the hood is a Qualcomm Snapdragon Processor, 4GB RAM and 128GB of memory. These specs are within our benchmarks for a superb android experience. On the backside, there’s a triple camera setup, consisting of a Macro Camera 13 MP (wide) + 2 MP (macro) + 2 MP (depth) supported by a wide range of features including Face Beauty, Portrait Light Effects and Filters to capture sharper images.

The display panel is well within what most consumers will find appealing at 6.51-inches, though with a sub-par resolution that won’t impress many. We’d hoped at least for a device at this price point to have a reasonable panel – Xiaomi managed to impress us with its Redmi 9 that costs just under 15k here in Kenya.

Airtel and Telkom Kenya put on notice for failing to meet minimum 80 percent in call quality

Kenya’s telecoms regulator – the Communications Authority of Kenya has put Airtel and Telkom Kenya on the spot for failing to meet set minimum in call quality. The two mobile service providers are accused of failing to provide quality services on their networks which is supposed to exceed 80 percent. This happened in at least 33 counties across the country in the year ending 2020.

According to the CA report, Telkom Kenya scored 73 percent while Airtel achieving 52 percent in a survey conducted within the year. In comparison, Safaricom which enjoys a massive share of Kenya’s mobile phone users because of MPESA, managed to attain 92 percent in the same survey. The Authority has placed the two service providers on the spot, to establish whether they’ll improve their services this year.

According to the report, Airtel and Telkom were both issued with a notice of non-compliance for not meeting minimum threshold in voice services which is set at 80 percent. The report further says the Authority will be evaluating their performance this year to confirm whether they have improved on the suggested improvements.  

According to regulations in the mobile services sector, operators that do not meet minimum quality standards risk being fined up to 0.2 percent of their revenues, the amount could total into hundreds of millions. According to the survey done, Airtel subscribers from Kajiado, Kiambu and Narok counties experienced the highest outages and disruptions when making calls. Airtel scored 20 percent in the three counties and 40 percent in Makueni. Subscribers in Kwale, Laikipia, Nyandarua, Murang’a, Kirinyaga and Nandi counties rated Airtel lowest at 20 percent, while those in Kisumu gave the telco highest rating at 100 percent.