M-PESA and the Challenge of Handest Phone Model
This post is by Hebron Mwakalinga of Business Information Services (www.bis.co.tz)
I keep on remembering the old and the new adages that “In the past two things were certain in life, tax and death” the new adage is “three things are certain in life, internet, tax and death”. Despite all the odds I narrated sometime back about over dependency on digital there is no way we can escape from it. So I am back again.
I had been experiencing difficulties sending out money and after several attempts I checked with few agents, three of them said it is a problem of the network. The fourth asked me what kind of a handset do I have? I answered proudly Nokia, the second question from the agent (seems to be among the young grads that have decided to venture into self employment – thanks for the Telcos), it could be a faked Chinese Nokia he suggested. I assured him that my Nokia is real. I bought it at a respected dealer who does not stock anything fake. In fact I had the information long back that Nokia will launch this a dual sim card handset, I decided to be among the first to grab it,
Patiently the agent tried several times and every trick including calling Vodacom call centre for assistance. At the end after about 30 minutes of trials, it went through. I left the kiosk quite unconvinced as to why the service could be so erratic. After another similar experience I decided to swap cards between handsets.
The second handset worked swiftly. Yes it was the phone, only the phone that was a problem as I tested several times thereafter including this very morning and concluded that thee new
Nokia X1 – 01 V0.5.29 of 10.06.11 could be a big flop for a reputed company such as Nokia, I can’t explain technically but it may have problems with signal quality. The other Nokia 7230 V0.6. 90 of 26-02-2010 works fine. The price ratio is about 1:4 but I won’t think this should be the justification.
Two things are possible with this handset. It could this be a problem of just my handset or the entire design. If a design problem then it reminds me the situation that faced Daimler Benz when they moved into a new territory of compact cars, they experienced bad results undermining their reputation as they were struggling to converge conflicting business objectives, cheap Vs quality. Nokia has been losing market share in many fronts to iPad in higher end and to Samsung in middle and low end. While their move to become players in the low end markets is noble but they need to craft and implement their strategy carefully otherwise disappointing performance can erode their brand image. This include failure to tame counterfeits in the market which was reported sometime back to around 40% [a Survey in Uganda].
For Telcos with Vodacom on the lead, provide a mechanism to educate M-Pesa users on factors that affects quality of their services. The issue of handset type could be affecting many and given the message that comes back from the service provide that it is “done” while the transaction is incomplete is bound to make users believe it is the network. Also feedback text message for a failed transaction should explicitly indicate transaction not completed.