Thursday, May 20, 2010

Great news: Buy Kenyan airtime online at a discount!

Enjoying the online purchase of airtime
Finally, we can buy Kenyan airtime online at discounted prices. Check out the brand new website http://www.airtime.co.ke. It's not a flashy site, but it works, and the airtime is cheap. The airtime actually comes with a discount of 2%, so 100 bob of airtime will only cost you 98 bob. That leaves you with 2 bob to buy a sweet. If you buy 1,000 bob of airtime, you save 20 bob, and you can buy a soda with that.

All you need is a VISA credit or debit card. You simply need to select a product (they do have Safaricom, Zain, Yu and Orange airtime with denominations as small as 100 bob), add it to your cart, and checkout. The PIN delivery is automated and instant upon successful payment.

Saving money online
Apart from the obvious conveniences of such a site in Kenya, I guess this site will also become popular with Kenyans in the diaspora and could provide some stiff competition for sites such as MamaMikes and Babawatoto; e-commerce sites where airtime vouchers are some of the most popular items but currently come at a 15-20% price premium. So the savings for Kenyans in the diaspora will be a lot bigger than just a sweet or a soda.

Mobile phone operators may also make online credit/debit card purchases of airtime possible in the near future, as is the case in several other countries across the world.

What do you think? Does this new site have the potential to become a success?

13 comments:

cdohnio said...

I don't know if it'll be successful. I think it'll depend on the marketing they do because its a pretty niche market. But perhaps It'll work for Kenyans abroad...

Kellie said...

They should integrate Paypal because I'm not sure I'd trust them with my credit card detail.

Or even M Pesa (esp now that it's a bank), so many times I've needed Zain credit, got cash in M Pesa, but can't buy Zain credit from Safaricom!!

Rafiki said...

@ cdohnio: I don't know if it is such a niche market, I see so many people paying with cards in the supermarkets nowadays. I think the market for cards in Kenya is growing rapidly. I & M claims to have 2.2 million visa debit cardholders and more than 111,000 credit card holders.

@ Kellie: PayPal is also not 100% safe, since it is linked to your credit card. I&M Bank is claiming the place is safe, and has been licensed by VISA to do this.

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Airtime said...

Hi,

it is not easy to integrate Paypal when selling in KSh as they do not accept that currency. The alternative is to have a currency converter before checkout BUT then that means 'forcing' a currency depending on payment type... all of which is possible but a little tricky.

As things stand no card info is retained on the site, that is dealt with by I&M. Transactions are protected by an ssl certificate.

There have been quite a number of successful purchases.

Mpesa could be an option but as that is an 'offline' payment it would not be instant. What would happen would be PINs get 'bought' by Mpesa and are then held as 'pending' so taking them out of the system. This is not a good thing as it may prevent those with cards to buy them if availability dips.

Cards are definitely the way of the future...

Kind regards

Airtime

joliea said...

I shall definitely check it out. Hope its safe.

joliea said...

My bank (Barclays) says my debit card cannot do online transactions :(

Airtime said...

I believe the following banks issue debt cards that can be used online with accounts.

I&M bank
CBA
Equity

It really is time to ditch banks that prefer a big dusty ledger...

kimani said...

interesting concept t is so encouraging to see Kenyan entrepreneurs going online with business. I Think Kenyan ecommerce is going places! I can only imagine how it will look like 10 years from now

I live in Australia I’ve seen Kenyan owned online businesses like babawatoto.com which is really big with Kenyans in the diaspora and they also have very innovative services especially for folks like me who are so far from nyumbani.

Way to go folks!

kimani said...

it is so encouraging to see Kenyan entrepreneurs going online with business. I Think Kenyan ecommerce is going places! I can only imagine how it will look like 10 years from now

I live in Australia I’ve seen Kenyan owned online businesses like http://babawatoto.com which is really big with Kenyans in the diaspora and they also have very innovative services especially for folks like me who are so far from nyumbani.

Way to go folks!

Mwirigi said...

I used to use a sevice called Paymate a couple of years back. There were no discounts and the minimum you could buy was Shs.250.
It allowed the use of Visa Electron cards (your basic ATM card) and it was based at KCB.
Unfortunately it folded. I think it was just ahead of its time. Airtime.co.ke has real potential and I'm glad someones finally using I&Ms portal to do something interesting.

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