Safaricom’s Pochi

During Safaricom’s 20th anniversary celebrations last week, the company announced the launch of a new M-Pesa business product called launched “Pochi la Biashara” as part of a commitment to support micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

This comes shortly after they rolled out a new app for business payments (Lipa Na Mpesa app) and which had racked up 240,000 enterprises in a few months. What’s different about the new business pouch (Pochi) product? It’s targeted at informal business people, such as some food vendors, kiosk owners, and boda boda (motorcycle) operators who are not formally registered as businesses.

  • No loss of Fuliza repayment: Sometimes  people with Fuliza loans (a useful instant temporary overdraft on their phones that are replenished by the next infusion of cash) can sometimes find the service an inconvenience, as they may have an urgent or immediate use for an incoming payment – so to get around this, they ask for the money to be sent to a different phone number. Pochi eliminates this need to juggle two phone lines, as business payments do not go to replenish Fuliza – and borrowers can later repay these at a more convenient time.
  • Anonymity: For customers wary about their telephone numbers being misused when they pay via M-Pesa, a phone number is not visible when they make a payment to Pochi. This has become a pet peeve as they sometimes have their numbers harvested and they later get advertising messages or even face personal harassment. To pay to Pochi, they dial *334#.
  • Simple sign up for business owners. There’s no paperwork and they do not incur charges as they receive payments. 
  • No reversals of payments without the business owner’s permission.

So one can now buy from a roadside hawker or at a highway market on the way to Nakuru without worrying that their M-Pesa details (name and phone number) will be used to pester them

Likewise, the vendor has no worry that someone who buys food or curios from them will try and reverse the payment as soon as they drive off.

Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa also said the company is going through a competitive process to enter Ethiopia as they plan to make M-Pesa, which now processes 21 million transactions a day, the financial service platform for Africa.

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