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Voice tech to ease M-Pesa transactions for the blind

OGUTU

Safaricom’s director for strategy and innovation Joseph Ogutu. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • Safaricom is seeking to make it easy for the about 1.3 million visually impaired Kenyans to use the mobile banking platform.

Safaricom #ticker:SCOM has launched voice response technology to help visually impaired persons to access their M-Pesa accounts.

Safaricom’s director for strategy and innovation Joseph Ogutu Monday said the company is seeking to make it easy for the about 1.3 million visually impaired Kenyans to use the mobile banking platform.

“Clients can dial 234 to access an M-Pesa interactive voice platform. With this platform our aim is to break the barriers for visually impaired customers,” Mr Ogutu told a gathering at the Michael Joseph Centre to commemorate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. He said the main challenge visually impaired people face is how to keep their personal-identification-numbers (PIN) secret, which the voice response technology would solve for them.

The new product currently only allows users to check their balance, but will be developed to include other features over time.

“When I have a basic feature phone, withdrawing or sending money has been quite an issue. I try to work with trust. We are excited by this innovation, which has been long overdue. It gives us independence and now we go ahead and transact without revealing our PIN,” said Jonah Simba, IT programme officer, Kenya Union of the Blind.

Safaricom also plans to develop other products that will make it easier for blind people to use smartphones.