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Safaricom; Internet Data Balance to replace cash in Kenya


Safaricom, a key telecommunications operator in Kenya has unveiled a new service that will lead to the expansion of its customer base in the Nation. The company’s latest feature allows customers to make use of their internet data bundles to purchase goods and services. This new feature is available to prepaid and postpaid subscribers with a minimum 5GB data balance including the No Expiry data bundles which are available for prepaid users.

This service is known as “Lipa na Data,” as it allows subscribers to pay for goods at different shops using the pay bill or till numbers platform. To access the till numbers, subscribers only need to dial the shortcode, *544*34#

After dialing the service code, eligible users will be presented with four options. They include Buy Goods, Pay Bill, View Bundle Balance, and Bundle Calculator. On the other hand, ineligible users get presented with an error message on their screen.

The Bundle Calculator tool shows the bill in Kenyan currency alongside the equivalent data bundle. For context, a bill worth Sh2,000 is equivalent to 30GB while a bill of Sh500 is equal to 7.7GB. Users have the option of accepting or rejecting the payment request. The view Bundle Balance option also allows users to confirm if their data balance is sufficient to perform a payment transaction.

Lipa na Data joins the famous mobile money service, M-Pesa as one of Safaricom’s numerous marketing strategies to establish its dominance in the telecommunications industry. They also offer creative payment methods like the Lipa na Bonga which enables consumers to settle cash bills with points and Fuliza which enables eligible users to make purchases even with insufficient funds.

Safaricom continues to dominate the market despite the decline in net profit. The company report showed a 27% drop in net profit as compared to the previous year. This decline is speculated to be a result of the high operating expense incurred in Ethiopia where Safaricom is currently expanding operations.

To improve their network coverage, Safaricom has also launched a 5G network in Kenya and in April 2023 it was available in 21 counties in Kenya. This is apart from its various payment solutions.

Recent data from the Communication Authority show that Safaricom holds a dominant position in the Kenyan market with 66% registered users. This is followed by Airtel Kenya which holds a 27% user base and Telkom Kenya which holds a 4.5% user base. Also, its mobile money service, M-Pesa holds 96.5% of the nation’s mobile money market while Airtel Money holds 3.4% and T-Kash holds 0.1%

With Airtel’s announcement to launch its 5G network in July, Safaricom’s current position could be challenged. However, due to the early introduction of 5G and the success of its M-Pesa platform, it may be difficult for competitors to displace them as the top telecom operator in Kenya. 



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