An M-Pesa transaction. The telco has introduced a safety enhancement to ensure transactions are only with the right people. [Photo: thinkm-pesa.com]

Have you been in a situation where you have ‘conveniently’ sent money to the wrong person because there is no way to easily authenticate the recipient?

Well, such a scenario has been repeated over and over and many mobile money customers have lost money in cases where a reversal of the transaction was not effected soon enough.

To curb such occurrences, Safaricom has introduced a new enhancement to M-Pesa that will enable customers confirm the name of the intended recipient of funds, before completing a transaction.

This comes a week after the GSMA, the global body that represents mobile operators said in a report that,

“Entrepreneurs, enterprises and entire countries can benefit greatly from advanced mobile technologies, but only if mobile operators continue to upgrade their existing networks and deploy new networks. Mobile operators need to build a robust business case for new investment that will convince investors to provide the necessary finance.”

Hakikisha’ which has been under pilot for the last one month will be rolled out in phases with a view to covering the entire 21.7 million M-Pesa customers by October 30, 2015. It will ensure that customers no longer lose money to unintended recipients as a result of making a mistake while entering a number.

“On any given day we receive an average of 12,000 calls from our M-Pesa customers seeking to have reversals done for transactions made to the wrong recipients. While a majority of these are resolved successfully, we appreciate that this is a major inconvenience for our customers,”

said Safaricom’s Director of Financial Services, Betty Mwangi.

The pop-up feature will also apply when customers are making payments to Lipa Na M-Pesa (PayBill option), agent withdrawals, and will complement ongoing plans to boost the number of cashless transactions in the country. M-Pesa Agents will also benefit from the service when depositing funds to customer numbers.

Mwangi said,

“This is yet another testament to our commitment to ensure that we know our customers intimately and deliver to them the most relevant products, which is one of the objectives that we set out to achieve during this financial year. More initiatives are underway.”

This new enhancement is as a result of improved system capability after migration of M-Pesa servers to Kenya earlier this year.

The intended recipients’ names will be queried against the official records registered by the customers and PayBill partners, ensuring that customers no longer send funds to the wrong numbers or organisations.

However, ‘Hakikisha’ will be suspended if no transaction is completed after five consecutive trials by typing 1 to STOP the transaction.

Launched eight years ago, M-Pesa has become a key mobile money solution in Kenya with over 13.9 million Kenyans using the service at least once a month.

It is supported by a network of over 85,000 agents and has more than 50,000 Lipa Na M-Pesa tills.