Tech leaps face familiar limitations

Staff at the Kaymu offices in Dar es Salaam. Photo: contributed

Staff at the Kaymu offices in Dar es Salaam: mobile money is making inroads, but still faces limitations of infrastructure and old habits. Photo: contributed

As businesses jump online and go cashless, leaps in technology are being challenged by familiar limitations: old habits and a lack of functioning infrastructure.

“With our website and mobile app we overcame the obstacles of distance and time,” says Vaibhav Krishna, the country director of Kaymu Tanzania, where 25 percent of transactions are made utilizing mobile money.

“Only after customer satisfaction is guaranteed, the money will be transferred to the seller,” says Krishna.

But some Tanzanians still prefer to have cash in hand, says Sieto Bloemkolk, marketing consultant for online marketplace Kaymu, which operates in 16 countries across Africa.

In that regard, Kaymu sees it as a responsibility to educate the users on mobile money, says Bloemkolk.

In two years, Kaymu’s parent company has also launched HelloFood and Jumia in Tanzania, taking advantage of the untapped online market that cuts through the hassles of shopping in Dar.

But persistent network failure, a lack of electricity, and lack of vigilance by users leading to theft continues to hinder mobile money says researcher Nicholaus Senso in a paper published by the International Journal of Research in Management & Technology.

“The major factor that hindered large population of customers from using the service was network or service failures,” says Senso, noting that customer goodwill will drop when repeatedly faced with network messages like ‘service not available’ or ‘please try again.’

Senso says education is key in order for mobile money to penetrate more successfully.

“Agents frequently reported that they do not believe it is their responsibility to educate non-users or advocate mobile money use.”

Edited October 20 for clarification & expansion of comment by Sieto Bloemkolk.

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