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Safaricom launches voice activated M-Pesa transaction

Safaricom launches voice activated M-Pesa transaction

Safaricom has announced the launch of the Interactive Voice Response platform to enable visually challenged persons to access M-Pesa services.

In a one of its kind move, Safaricom says that currently users will only be able to access the balance inquiry service, but more services will be added in the coming months, including withdrawal and bill payment capability all from voice guided prompts.

Visually impaired persons will dial a short code from their phones and access the services through voice prompts.

"Tremendous gains lie in being able to enhance the ability to integrate of persons with disabilities into every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life," said Joseph Ogutu, Director, Strategy, Safaricom.

"We hope that this latest innovation will enable more visually impaired customers on our network to have control over their M-Pesa accounts," he said.

A testimonial by one beneficiary said that the new platform offers visually impaired persons privacy over their mobile money account, something they did not have before.

"When I have a basic feature phone, withdrawing or sending money has been quite an issue. I try to work with trust. We are excited by this innovation, which has been long overdue. It gives us independence and now we go ahead and transact without revealing our PIN," said Jonah Simba, IT Program Officer, Kenya Union of the Blind.

Safaricom said that it is also working to ensure that smartphones are more affordable to the visually impaired and has initiated more programs under the voice biometric platform that will see innovations tailored around voice activated commands.

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