Consumers in Kenya uneasy with mobile commerce solutions

Recent statistics by Communication Commission of Kenya, CCK, point out to a growing mobile money market with transfer subscriptions at nearly 18 million and deposits totalling about KSh190 billion (approx. US$2.4 billion).

Users in Kenya are however stopping at mobile money transfers leaving out mobile commerce due to unconfirmed fears, a study says.

iHub Research and Weza Tele in their new report found out that although 71 percent of customers and 81 percent of sellers they interviewed are interested in mobile commerce solutions, few of them take up the services.

The report says sellers are interested in mobile commerce applications with easy to use interfaces. The sellers and buyers want apps with easy distribution chains where they can make orders, receive or make payments and deliver the orders. Others still prefer to see a “live demonstration” of an application before they can use it.

The study by Weza Tele and iHub Research looked at various consumers’ ordering and vendors’ distribution habits. They wanted to find why mobile commerce is not popular despite increased mobile penetration now at 81 percent.

The research, conducted in Nairobi’s Central Business District, majored around habits of buyers and sellers, the challenges towards mobile commerce and their daily preferences. Twenty-eight customers and 21 sellers participated.

According to the survey, 82 percent of consumers are currently making their orders manually and similarly while 85.7 percent of buyers process manually placed orders. While 62 percent of sellers have a point of sales (POS) system, majority of them, at 95 percent, receive written orders and “they too file their transaction manually.”

The survey found that some 90 percent of orders received are in cash with mobile money payments, M-Pesa payments taking the rest.

About 71 percent of the customers interviewed queue or wait from the physical premises as their orders are processed with only 3.6 percent of customers who actually waited for their goods to be delivered to their premises.

The research found out that some 36 percent of consumers and nearly 43 percent of sellers prefer manual transactions due to lack of trust.

While 50 percent of the consumers prefer delivery of their orders, 32 percent prefer to pick them up when ready instead of waiting to avoid queues. Thirty-eight percent of both sellers and buyers prefer physical contact as they exchange the goods.

Most consumers prefer making phone call orders or using e-platforms than mobile phone systems. The report says 90 percent of consumers interviewed wanted e-platforms and phone call orders than mobile commerce solutions.

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