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Using M-Pesa’s Daraja API To Help County Governments Collect Revenue – Interview With Samuel Mwaura

For years, software developers yearned for ways to integrate M-Pesa to their products in a more efficient way. When Safaricom introduced the M-Pesa G2 API, this was seen as a step in the right direction but not all developers were happy with it as most of them could not integrate their applications with it.

With the not so smooth path developers have had with M-Pesa API’s, the introduction of the new Daraja API got their attention and got them interested. Daraja API brought all the good that the G2 API had and added some extra features that developers could use in their applications. I had an interview with Samuel Mwaura of Malipo Popote Solutions to talk about how their organization uses the new Daraja API in some of the products they build.

Malipo Popote Solutions

Mr. Mwaura describes Malipo Popote Solutions as a Kenyan payment solutions provider. The company builds financial products to help organizations make better financial decisions. Its latest product is a revenue collection system that the company says targets County Governments and is being used in Laikipia, Nyeri, Turkana and Marsabit Counties.

Malipo Popote Solutions started working on the revenue collection system back in 2013 and has been refining it since then. From the beginning, the company has been using M-Pesa APIs (the very first ones) but only started using Daraja API in May 2018. Mr. Mwaura says that initially there were some glitches when using Daraja API but it is now stable.

How They Use Using Daraja API

Having used Daraja API for over 6 months, Mr. Mwaura says that STK Push is one of the key features that Daraja API has brought. Before Daraja API, he says that one of the challenges they used to have is to ask the customer to initiate the payment process. Customers need to know what they are paying for before making the payment and this was not easy before. Those using M-Pesa to make payments also had to remember the Paybill number and had to put it the account number manually. I know I am not the only one who can’t remember the many Paybill numbers out there and in some cases I opt to using a different payment solution just to avoid M-Pesa.

STK Push is one of the key products brought by Daraja API…It is a Game changer.

On the backend, Mr. Mwaura says that there were challenges as some customers would make payments that may not reconcile. Since the developer or the company does not know what to expect, they do program the system to accept payments for the services they offer. If a customer tries to make a payment but makes a mistake, the account would not reconcile since the system will not understand what the customer is trying to pay for. This can be a nightmare if you are dealing with County governments or big organizations that may not be able to address every issue in time. Customers end up being frustrated as to them they have paid but are not getting the service.  

With STK Push, customers are able to bypass the whole process of using Lipa na M-Pesa and remembering the Paybill and account numbers. All they will get is the pop-up notification that will require them to enter their M-Pesa PIN. The pop-up notification has all the details including the account number and the amount the customer is required to pay. This is usually the last process of any M-Pesa transaction and STK Push lets you skip everything and get to this step in a faster and more efficient way.

Malipo Popote Solutions has seen the number of mistakes by customers reduce ever since they started using Daraja API and specifically STK Push. The number of customers who call to confirm if their payment has been processed have also gone down.

No More Sneaky Reversals

By letting users pay through M-Pesa, Mr Mwaura says that one of the challenges organizations faced was loss of money through M-Pesa reversals. In such cases, a customer would pay for a service and they do get the service as the payment has reflected in the system. Some crafty individuals would then initialize the M-Pesa reversal process and if successful, the company would lose money. If this happens numerous times, the organization can lose a significant chunk of its revenue over time. With Daraja API, reversing payments already received and reflected on the backend is not as easy anymore.

Besides M-Pesa reversal and STK Push, Malipo Popote Solutions is also using the C2B API in its products. The company is also working with the B2B, B2C and Account balance APIs internally and should start using them in some of its products very soon.

Going forward, Malipo Popote Solutions will work on onboarding other County governments and small businesses to use its revenue collection system and some of its other products that include a rent collection solution among others. The company wants to build a platform for the not so tech-savvy individuals who want to start accepting payments through M-Pesa. Mr Mwaura acknowledged that there is fear among some business owners and organizations who raise legitimate questions since money is involved. He says that most of them need some convincing to be comfortable using solutions such as the ones they are offering.

You can learn more on ways to work with Daraja API here on this article by Denis Juma.

About author

Editor at TechArena. I cover all things technology and review new gadgets as I get them. You can reach me on email: kaluka@techarena.co.ke
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