Safaricom’s Lipa na M-PESA Service allows registered merchants to receive payments from customers via M-PESA. Currently, over 200,000 businesses are using the service in Kenya, allowing people to make convenient and cashless transactions.

However, there is one major downside associated with the Lipa Na M-PESA service. To complete a transaction, a user has to go through at least seven steps, three of which require extreme accuracy. The process has the following steps.

Open the SIM toolkit menu 
> Safaricom 
> Lipa na M-PESA 
> Buy Goods and Services 
> Enter till number 
> Enter Amount 
> Enter M-PESA PIN 
> Confirm.

This is a long process and it takes some time. A shopper at a supermarket would have to wait for the cashier to scan all products so that they can know the amount of the money to pay, then go through the payment steps outlined above. If you start the process earlier so that you are just waiting to enter the amount, the transaction is likely to time out. One thus has to wait.

The most delicate part is that you might enter the wrong Till Number, wrong amount, or the wrong PIN, all of which might need one to restart the process.

This lengthy process has been a subject of many jokes, with people joking that there should be a dedicated line for M-PESA checkout in a supermarket so that those people stop wasting time for everyone else on the queue.


This is the process that Safaricom decided to solve using the M-PESA 1Tap service. Safaricom introduced a POS device that would work with an NFC card which is linked to MPESA. Customers would only need to tap on the POS with their card, then they would be promoted to enter the M-PESA PIN on their phone. The payment process would be short and simple.

In addition to the card, Safaricom also had a wrist band and a sticker that could be used for the same purpose. One had to choose between the three, with the sticker being a very convenient option because it could be easily attached to the back of a phone.

This was a genius move.

M-PESA 1Tap's failure

Several years later, the whole project failed and people continue to go through the long check out process using M-PESA.

Why did it fail?

It is not clear why, and Safaricom never said why this happened. The former CEO Bob Collymore once said that it was simply not a great idea, but the actual reasons remain scanty.

Was it because merchants needed to get a special device to make it work?

Was it because users did not want to carry one more piece of card or wristband?

Was it because the pain of taking a little bit longer in the M-PESA checkout just a few times a month was not a problem for most people?

Only Safaricom can tell.

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