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Only very few apps ever make it to my home screen. Safaricom’s new MySafaricom app earns its place on mine. It packs features I use all the time. Now the task at hand is to find space for it.

Everyone has those 4, 5 or 6 apps they are always accessing. In order to circumvent the long process of going to the application drawer and flipping through horizontally or scrolling vertically through a long list of other apps every other time, we all resort to doing one thing: pinning them on our smartphone’s home screens. That may be directly or indirectly by grouping them with other similar apps in folders (like say if it is Facebook then you bundle it with Twitter and Instagram – social apps). There’s one new application that may tempt you to do that and it’s from the least expected of quarters: Safaricom.

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The MySafaricom application has not been around for long, it’s very new. However what has me rooting for it to have a home on your home screen is its practicality. Simply put, Safaricom has made it easy to have a quick glance at all the services you are subscribed to and gather just as much as you would want without making a fuss about it. You know, you no longer have to remember that USSD code for checking your data bundle balance.

For us who have been using our Safaricom lines for like forever, this is a non-issue since we know all the basic Safaricom USSD codes by heart. However, for every other foreigner walking into a Safaricom Shop booth at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport or anywhere else in the country to get a nano SIM card for their iPhone, this is a big deal. Very big deal. With just an app and a data connection, every user is able to view their loyalty bonus points (Bonga) balance, their credit balance and the remaining megabytes or gigabytes on their subscribed data plan.

Even better, you can subscribe to several Safaricom services. Like Safaricom’s SMS bundles.

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I must send a Twitter direct message to Safaricom’s customer care team every other New Year’s eve to ask them to remind me of the short code for subscribing to Safaricom’s SMS bundles. Really, I do that. New Year’s eve is the only time of the year when I realize that despite WhatsApp almost being a standard means of texting everyone in my life, I still have a boatload of phone contacts who, though on WhatsApp, respond faster to SMS than online chats. So much for being “digital”.

Being a time of the year when most people I associate with have retreated to their rural homes in upcountry and have little to no access to a cellular data connection, traditional SMS is the most convenient and reasonable way to wish people good tidings in the new year without sounding like a confused millennial. Yet I don’t know the most basic facilitator of that: *188#. Thanks to the new MySafaricom app, Safaricom’s customer care team won’t miss my nagging enquiries minutes to midnight on December 31st, 2016. So long ^MK, ^MM and team!

SMS bundle activation aside, you can do basics like topping up and buying data. Airtime and data bundle sambaza is also there. Easy and fast. Also, the application, under the ‘My Profile’ section, allows users to view the PUK of the SIM they are using. Go to Safaricom’s customer care feed on Twitter and you’ll most likely find an enquiry by a user on how they can find out their PUK since not all of us ever bother to keep that card once we’ve slotted in the SIM.

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Safaricom sent me a broadcast message some time back informing me that I could now register to have my M-PESA statements sent to me via email monthly. Nice! Like most other people, I quickly opened my phone’s dial pad to key in the short code specified in the text (*234*2#) only for it to, as fate would have it, not work. The code crashed. Maybe something was broken on Safaricom’s end or every other person who had received the broadcast message was doing the same thing and the system was overwhelmed… I had no idea. I just never bothered again.

Until today when I tried out the MySafaricom app and it reminded me that I could step outside my M-Ledger cocoon for a moment and have a peek at a better way to track my M-PESA transactions that does not involve queuing for hours at Safaricom’s Shop at I&M building. I keyed in my mobile phone number and my email address and about half a minute later there was a text message from Safaricom informing me that I will, henceforth, be receiving my M-PESA statements via email by the 5th of every month. A minute later, another text message arrived informing me that my M-PESA statement for the last 6 months had been dispatched to my inbox. Those messages arrived at 10.49AM and 10.50AM respectively. The email also landed at 10.50AM. Fast!

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Safaricom may have taken forever to make applications I want to use and tell people to use (previous ones like the Safaricom App Store and others like MyMarket leave a lot to be desired) but it nailed it with the MySafaricom application. It’s visually appealing and actually works as intended.

Now that Safaricom has shown that it listens and does respond in spectacular fashion while also moving with the times, how long until we have an application similar to MySafaricom but for M-PESA? I’m now speaking as a Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 user who has to swap devices in order to use M-PESA on another phone with the SIM toolkit working.

Is this the end of the road for third party applications that had flooded the Google Play Store offering easy ways of using short codes like STASH?

 

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