Safaricom was the first telco to introduce an airtime advance (or loan) scheme, Okoa Jahazi, for its subscribers. Through Okoa Jahazi, a customer can get an airtime advance from as low as Kshs 10 upwards depending on a person’s usage patterns and history. The facility comes to the rescue of subscribers when they run out airtime, still need to communicate but are unable to purchase airtime.
After Safaricom, Airtel Kenya also introduced a similar service for its subscribers and called it Kopa Credo. The Airtel airtime advance scheme however takes it lower than Safaricom’s as subscribers can get apply for Kshs 5 airtime and pay with a 20% interest fee upon top up. This means that borrowing Kshs 5 airtime attracts a fee of Kshs 1.
From Airtel and Safaricom, we have Telkom (formerly Orange Kenya) whose airtime advance scheme is called Pewa. From the time the Pewa service was introduced in 2012 till March this year, subscribers were not charged any interest on the advance when the loan was settled within 24-hours. However from March this year, Telkom now charges a 10% commission on the value of airtime disbursed to clients.
One area where all the telcos have been similar when it comes to airtime advances and recovery process is that the amount sent to a subscriber has always been recovered automatically one makes the next airtime top up. And woe unto you if you had an unsettled airtime advance loan and then purchased airtime thinking of subscribing to a bundle – whether voice, SMS or data. The outstanding amount will first be deducted even before you key in the codes for subscribing to your bundle. And you’ll be left with less airtime to purchase the bundle.
I don’t how many have noticed this but from last week, I’ve come to notice something interesting: whenever I make a new top-up with an existing (an yet-to-be settled) Kopa Credo, my airtime is not automatically deducted. It has made to do my balance query twice to confirm whether I’ve an existing loan or not.
Surprisingly, the loan was there. However, on its ‘Kopa Credo’ menu, Airtel has now introduced a new feature which first asks you whether you’d want to settle your loan before the deduction can be made.
Look at the screenshots below of the revised Kopa loan repayment process:
This will surely be welcome news to those who’ve heeded the calls by the NASA leadership to ditch Safaricom and move to alternative telcom service providers, with main beneficiary in the politically-motivated migration of subscribers (or churn) being Airtel Kenya.