Technology

Firm launches one-stop airtime solution for all mobile networks

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A customer pays for goods with Safaricom’s Lipa na M-Pesa service at a Nairobi kiosk recently. FILE

Imagine the convenience and flexibility of being able to buy airtime for up to 12 mobile phone numbers from any of the four mobile networks and make a single payment.

A local ICT solutions provider, AJA Limited has set up an online platform that makes this possible with a truly one-stop shop solution for customers’ airtime requirements irrespective of the network they are in.

For example, it’s possible to buy Airtel or Orange airtime and pay with Safaricom’s M-Pesa. The payments range between Sh50 to Sh9,999.

All the subscribers have to do is visit the e-topup platform, fill out the number they require to buy air time for as well as the amount.

Once they confirm their order, they are taken to the secure payment gateway where they choose the payment method and proceed to the end. Once payment is received, the selected phone numbers are topped up.

The solution is being offered as an alternative airtime distributor channel and AJA said it had signed commercial agreements with the four mobile operators but it did not disclose the commission it earns.

Mobile operators are increasingly opting for electronic channels to sell airtime and data services, reducing reliance on the more expensive traditional distribution models that include printing of scratch cards.

AJA technical lead Joel Kepaou said the platform will make it easy and convenient for customers to get more value from their phones.

“A case in point to illustrate this is that many customers in Kenya have a Safaricom line for voice communications and money transfer, but own Orange or Airtel lines for Internet,” said Mr Kepaou.

At the moment, subscribers can top up their mobile phones either by scratch cards, their respective mobile money transfer systems or from unmanned electronic vending machines.

Mobile operators are racing to diversify the channels through which they sell their products, with electronic platforms gaining prominence due to lower costs.

In January, Telkom Kenya entered into a deal with PesaPal, an online payment platform that enables its data subscribers to top up their modems using rivals’ services such as M-Pesa, Airtel Money and yuCash, and other payment systems such as Visa and Mastercard.

In March, Solo Payment Systems, introduced unmanned electronic vending machines and installed 176 airtime outlets densely populated areas such as Buru Buru, Zimmerman and Umoja in Nairobi.