Voice Technology to Ease up M-Pesa Transactions for Blind People


Safaricom develops a new technology to assist the blind. The technology is not about helping them improve the condition of their vision but concerns their transactions. Blind people who have the M-Pesa accounts can full access and operate their accounts on their own. The technology gives them that freedom and access to other features that they also require.

Safaricom launched a new technology, which is a voice response tech to help those who are visually impaired to have full access to their M-Pesa accounts and run them as they want.

According to Joseph Ogutu Monday, the company’s director for innovation and strategy, the company is looking for the easy way people who are visually impaired can use the mobile platform. There are over 1.3 million visually impaired people in Kenya. The mobile app will help them run their bank accounts the way they want even with their challenges.

At the Michael Joseph Center where hundreds of people were gathered to mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Mr. Ogutu told the gathering that “Clients using the mobile app only need to dial 234 to have access to an M-Pesa interactive voice platform. He also stated that the company’s aim is to use the platform to break down the barriers visually impaired customers faces on daily basis. He said the problem is how they can keep their PIN (Personal Identification Number) secret. He maintained that the voice technology will help them to solve this problem amicably.

The new technology looks promising for people with special abilities. But it needs more input to cover more features. Currently, the new product only allows those who are visually impaired to check their account balance but will later be developed to include additional features that will enable them to perform other tasks.

According to Jonah Simba, an IT programme office of the Kenya Union of the Blind, “withdrawing money has been very difficult for me using a basic feature phone. We work with those we trust to get money. We are happy with this new innovation which we expect would have been made available before now. The technology gives us independence and makes it possible for us to withdraw money without giving our Personal Identification Number out.

Safaricom is also thinking of developing other products that will enable people with visual challenges to make use of smartphones.


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