Safaricom plan to hide Lipa na M-Pesa details suffers setback


Safaricom has delayed a plan slated for end of this month to block customer contact details when making payments through Lipa na M-Pesa to curb personal information being traded to advertisers or leaking to fraudsters.

The telco on Wednesday cited technical hitches in the delay for the rollout of the plan which would have seen it start blocking customer contact details when they make payments through Lipa na M-Pesa from end of June.

Under the new regime, Safaricom only displays the first name of subscribers making payments through the platform and a few digits of their phone number, effectively hiding the contact of the customer.

“As an update to our previous communication regarding data minimisation on the M-Pesa API, we will be making adjustments to accommodate several of our partners who are experiencing technical challenges integrating the minimised APIs,” Safaricom told merchants in correspondence seen by Business Daily.

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API or application programming interface is a software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other.

Safaricom did not provide a new date for the rollout of the service but said it was engaging its partners on a new date.

“As such, partners will continue to receive customer phone numbers through the M-Pesa API beyond the earlier communicated deadline of 30th June 2022,” it said.

“This will ensure partners can continue to adequately process payments as we assist them to resolve resulting technical challenges.”

The move was aimed at curbing personal information from being traded to advertisers or leaking to fraudsters in line with data protection legal requirements.

At present, people paying for goods and services leave their numbers and names with thousands of merchants.

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With access to consumers’ phone numbers and buying habits, the merchants use personal information to send unsolicited advertising through text messages.

Kopo Kopo, a startup which has a deal with Safaricom to connect SMEs to the Lipa na M-Pesa platform, had explained to vendors how the new platform would work under the new regime.

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