Exactly when Jim and Ann started calling each other “ghasia” is a question neither of them can answer. But that is the password of their friendship. Every phone call starts with that word. Every high-five. Every online chat.
They are young people in the city, just in the germination stage of their careers. And this is a platonic relationship, largely because Ann likes it so. You might call Jim bro-zoned but he has never seen it that way.
Now, Jim is the more tech-savvy of the two, though he has an inferior phone to Ann’s. A clear contrast is the number of camera “eyes” at the back of their phones. Ann’s phone has four prominent eyes arranged in a square. Jim’s has only two shy camera eyes looking like weather-beaten traffic lights.
One day they are in a downtown supermarket buying some yoghurt and Ann realises Jim is using a unique app to pay via M-Pesa at the counter. They later sit at a city park to chat and gulp down their yoghurt.
JIM: I know you wanted to ask what that was. It is the new M-Pesa app.
ANN: It looks kinda cool. Is it the one I’ve heard people say you can use to send money to many people at once?
JIM: Yes, that one. Of all the things you might have heard, ‘send to many’ is the one that stuck?
ANN: Why do I have this feeling that someone has just been insulted?
JIM: Anywho, ‘send to many’ is a great feature in the app. You can send to all your siblings in college in one fell swoop.
ANN: Aha, someone using ‘one fell swoop’ in the middle of a city park. English professor, huh? Now, Prof, tell me how you’re better than me with your M-Pesa app.
JIM: I approve transactions with my finger. No need to key in the Pin every time. You saw the way I paid at the supa? When approving payment I actually just placed my finger on the fingerprint scanner of my phone and that was it.
ANN: That’s something.
JIM: Yeah. It’s because the M-Pesa app works with a person’s biometrics saved on the phone. It can use the face or fingerprints to complete transactions. As others hangaika with the pin, me I am home and dry.
ANN: Kwanza you and the way you love shortcuts.
JIM: [Makes a face] I will take that as a compliment. By the way, do you know the keyboard shortcut for minimising all windows on a Windows computer screen?
JIM: Ghasia. You press and hold the Windows button then you press M. Anyway, the other big thing is that the app stores regular transactions. That ka-pub you frequent will like you more because you won’t be asking for the PayBill number every time you go there. Once on the ‘pay’ platform, it will provide numbers of the PayBill numbers you frequently use. Even when sending money, a list is available showing the number of the people you frequently send cash to.
ANN: By the way, I don’t frequent that pub. I only go once in a while for a can of…
JIM: …worms? Oh yeah, I forgot you’re a bookworm.
ANN: [Blank stare]
JIM: There is also the ease of seeing how much dough you have. As soon as you log into the app, you see how much you have on you, and how much you can fuliza if you’ve activated Fuliza.
ANN: So, no need to check last M-Pesa message to see the balance?
JIM: No need. All is contained in the app.
ANN: That’s also quite something.
JIM: You’re going to say that a lot today. Do you also know that the app comes with the ability to scan a QR code? A restaurant, for instance, will bring you a bill with a code on it. You scan it through the M-Pesa app and you’re sorted.
ANN: For real?
JIM: For real. Even when a bit tipsy like someone I know gets after one-and-a-half cans you need not deal with figures. Someday I’ll chapia you a story of some tipsy fella who paid 3150 instead of 315.0 for chipo.
JIM: There is also an expense tracker in the app. I know you are the frugal type and this app will help. On the home screen, right below the mulla you have and how much you can fuliza, is the total amount you have transacted that month. If further breaks down the expense categories.
ANN: For real? I’m absolutely downloading that app.
JIM: Just download. Safaricom will give you 500 MBs free data when you do. I’m predicting a lot of cat videos will be watched in the coming hours.
ANN: Leave me alone with my cats.
JIM: By the way, did you also know that you can use the M-Pesa app when you don’t have bundles? Unlike other apps that only work when mobile internet or Wi-Fi is on, the M-Pesa one provides you with an option of operating offline.
ANN: And how does one transact offline?
JIM: It’s a clever app. If you give it permission to read and send messages, it detects SMSes from M-Pesa and works with those.
ANN: That’s clever.
JIM: There’s more cleverness there. It has a feature for requesting someone to send money. And you can fish that number from your contact list and send the request there and then. I know one gender will find this the greatest thing after sliced bread.
ANN: Don’t go there.
JIM: It also has the ability to remind you to pay for a certain bill. You tell it the date you pay for some bill and it sends a reminder. Imagine.
ANN: Those who are forgetful like someone here are now sorted.
JIM: I’m not forgetful. Only that my RAM gets overworked sometimes.
ANN: RAM? You need a new microprocessor chip from the Nyeri factory.
JIM: Look at you. Also, the app has the ability to house service providers. Like, you log into the app and you go to the ‘discover’ tab and you find providers like Madaraka Express and others. Through that, you can buy tickets and such.
ANN: [Shows her screen to Jim]. Look, I’ve just downloaded the app. I kept the count and you beat me 5-0 by having the M-Pesa app while I don’t. Now we’re level.
JIM: Welcome to simplicity, daughter of Zion.
The app can be downloaded here.