Safaricom Launches M-Pesa Services For The Blind

Safaricom announced on Monday, December 4th that it was launching M-Pesa services for the blind.

The M-Pesa IVR (Interactive Voice Response) Solution is aimed at enabling visually impaired people to conduct transactions themselves without the help of another person. The service will allow Safaricom customers to access their M-Pesa services by dialing 234 from their phones and interacting with the system.

It has been determined that the biggest challenge that the visually impaired face when conducting transactions is having to share their M-Pesa PINs every time they transact. This leads to fraud and Safaricom’s latest move helps to solve it.

So how does it work? After dialing 234, a person will be required to select option 1 which is M-Pesa Services then select option 5 for the M-Pesa balance. The system then asks for M-Pesa PIN in order for it to read the balance to the customer.

An M-Pesa agent.



That’s when the difference brought out by the IVR (Interactive Voice Response) technology is seen.

Most visually impaired already know how to input their PIN without seeing their phones. The major challenge is that they didn’t know when exactly to key in the PIN. The IVR thus comes in to vocally dictate the sequence to them so that they can key in themselves instead of needing another person to assist.

Joseph Ogutu, Safaricom’s Director of Strategy says,

Previously, visually impaired customers transacting on the service have had to depend on the assistance of other persons to make transactions. This has exposed them to the risk of being defrauded in the process and also meant that they sometimes have to reveal their M-PESA PINs to other people.

This is definitely a move in the right direction. The next step should be to implement Voice Recognition into M-Pesa IVR so that the blind can use only their voice to conduct transactions.


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