This program allows users to make payments in small increments over an extended period of time.
The name “Lipa Mdogo Mdogo” reflects the gradual nature of the payment scheme.
Initially, there were uncertainties about how this payment model would be managed.
However, it was revealed that Safaricom enlisted the assistance of Google, the owner of Android, to develop an app that would restrict access for users who default on their payments.
The daily payments for the smartphones start as low as KES 20, making it affordable for many people. This affordability enables a wider range of individuals to enjoy the benefits of smartphone services without having to spend a significant amount on expensive devices.
The app responsible for managing the payment process is called Device Lock Controller.
It gained attention online when it was accidentally uploaded to the US Google Play Store. Its purpose is to facilitate device management for credit providers, specifically in this case, Safaricom. The app is exclusively available for this purpose and is not accessible elsewhere.
Google’s involvement in this project is noteworthy, as they not only developed the app but also guided the development of low-cost smartphones for Safaricom’s device portfolio.
These smartphones are expected to utilize Android Go, a lightweight version of Google’s operating system designed for entry-level devices.
Here’s how the app operates: Customers are required to make daily payments for their devices, starting at KES 20 per day. In the event of a missed payment, the app enforces a three-phase lockout system:
- On the fourth day after the repayment deadline, the phone is locked, limiting its functionality.
- If the customer continues to default on payments, a second ban is imposed on the seventh day, restricting outgoing calls and SMS.
- If the default persists for 30 days, the customer is blacklisted and disqualified from accessing future device loan facilities. Additionally, their name is forwarded to the credit reference bureau (CRB) by Safaricom.
Currently, the app has been installed by just over 100 users from the Google Play Store. This relatively low number raises questions about whether Safaricom will actively promote the service to onboard more customers who are unable to afford smartphones.