TrINC Money : MPESA-PayPal Service [Updated]

I was a bit hesitant to write about this new service after the rise and fall of PayMPESA, but here goes:

Trinc Money seems to be a new service that allows you to transfer money to and from PayPal via MPESA. yes, this means that it lets you both withdraw and deposit money into PayPal using MPESA. Sounds good, eh?

Apart from the usual PayPal and MPESA fees, Trinc Money charges what seems to be a used to charge a standard flat Kshs 1000 transaction fee. Depending on how much you send, this can work out to be extremely cheap. But is it sustainable?

They have since updated their fees to 6.9% + KES.250

I worry about this service. Does it have the required blessing from PayPal? As far as I know, PayPal does not allow this kind of money transfer service. If your remember correctly, other services got around this issue by packaging themselves as selling “vouchers” which could be redeemed for money. This seems not to be the case with Trinc Money.

Additionally, PayPal is rumored to be very very close to launching fully in Kenya. Would this not outright kill TrincMoney?

I have reached out to Trinc Money for comment on both of the above.

I am sorry if I feel overly critical of TrINC Money, I am just being prudent. I am aware that PayPal frowns upon this kind of “money transfer” business working through PayPal and I would not want the readers of Like Chapaa to suffer any loss as a result of reading this article.

So, dear readers, what do you think of this? Has anyone tried to use Trinc Money?

Response from TrINC Money:

Trincmoney is neither a money transfer service nor a currency exchange service. What we do provide is a platform for registered PayPal users to send electronic PayPal value to the Trincmoney PayPal account. These funds are not withdrawn and are valid PayPal transactions initiated by registered PayPal users.

Upon a customer’s request, our service sends our customers electronic monetary value depicted in ones M-PESA Account representing an equal amount of Cash held by the MPESA Holding Company Limited and which may be redeemed through an M-PESA Agent for an equal amount of legal tender in the Republic of Kenya, to their MPESA registered mobile numbers. Note that MPESA electronic value is NOT legal tender.

With regard to money laundering, Trincmoney carries out the required due diligence on customers who send us money and who receive money from us.

If PayPal were to open up shop on Kenya it would be a blessing to a lot of people who use the Internet to send and receive money. Trincmoney will survive simply because a PayPal withdrawal takes 4 working days to effect while our service is effected within the hour. Also chances are that the charges will be higher.

I hope I have answered your queries. I have also read your blog on our service. Please note that we changed our rates and are now charging 6.9% + KES.250. Check out our Facebook Page and Twitter handle and sample some of our customer reviews.

Strategic SEO

We all want our names, companies and products to come up when you search for them on Google, right? This is what SEO.; Search Engine Optimization – the art and science of making sure you are found when people search on Google and other search engines.

I get clients asking me for this everyday. The problem is, of course, no one knows how this works. A while back an angry client was up in arms for making their brand seem “cheap”. They could not understand why their brand did not come up when you searched for certain words on Google. (In fact, they went on to call Google Kenya so as to make a complaint). But I digress…

How do you make you site pop up first in the search engine results pages? You can click here to read a detailed answer. Basically, what you need to do is to prove to Google that your website is relevant to the topic being searched and important relative to other websites.

If you company is ABC Ltd and your main competitor is XYZ Ltd, it is fair to assume that you’d both get pretty good websites. After a (hopefully short) while you would both realise that it is important to be found on Google and you would start investigating this. The first thing you’ll likely come across is that you have to optimize your websites. This is sometimes called “on page” SEO. Everyone does it perfectly (or they should!).

Going back to our example, the CEOs of XYZ and ABC would both ensure that their on page SEO is done perfectly if they are reasonably good as CEOs. What next? How does one get an advantage over the other as far as SEO goes? If you ask me, gains from on page SEO are marginal because everyone does it well. The important part of SEO is what you do after you have optimized your website.

Invariably, the other part of SEO can be boiled down to one thing: making sure that as many other websites as possible point a link to your own website. This works this way: when publishes a link to your company’s website, it is taken to mean that is voting for your site’s importance. The more such links you can get, the better!

The problem is that getting these links is expensive and/or time-consuming.

So how do you do this in a scalable way?

Subscribe to Like Chapaa today, or sign up to receive free email updates so that you are notified as soon as we publish part 2 of this article.

The Most Popular Browser & Operating System in Kenya

This post is based on statistics of visitors to of the period January 2011 to January 2012. The data represents the operating systems and browsers used by the people who visited Like Chapaa in the year 2011. Here’s a nice little graph for you:

Like Chapaa 2011 Website Statistics

Like Chapaa 2011 Website Statistics (click for larger image)

PC Operating systems
Of course it is no surprise that Windows is far and away the most popular operating system in Kenya. But it was VERY surprising to me that there seems to be more Mac users than there are Linux users. Does this seem strange to you?

  1. Windows – 74.31%
  2. Macintosh – 3.88%
  3. Linux – 1.76%

I haven’t taken mobile into account above, see blow.

Mobile Operating systems
As you can see in the graphs, the leading mobile operating system is “not set”. I will assume that this can be attributed to the “kawa” phones such as your Nokias, Samsungs and whatnot – i.e. “feature phones”. These feature phones contribute a whopping 11.46% of the visitors to Like Chapaa.

It is interesting to note that the Android operating system is at a respectable 2.71%

  1. Feature phones – 11.46%
  2. Android – 2.71%

According to this data set, the most popular mobile operating system in Kenya:

  1. Symbian OS
  2. Unknown
  3. Android
  4. Samsung
  5. Sony Ericsson
  6. iOS
  7. Blackberry
  8. Windows mobile

Most Popular Browser
Firefox is the most popular browser with Internet Explorer coming in second and Google Chrome third. Interestingly, the lead that Firefox has is huge, being more than double its nearest competitor. Another interesting thing is that Google Chrome is almost at par with Internet explorer.

To be honest, these stats are very much unexpected. Globally, the most popular browser by a huge margin is Internet explorer. Perhaps this means that visitors to Like Chapaa are more ‘sophisticated’ when compared to the average Internet user.

  1. Firefox – 40.68%
  2. Internet Explorer – 17.20%
  3. Chrome – 16.28%
  4. Safari – 2.70%
  5. Opera – 1.91%

Mobile Vs Desktop
It is interesting to note that Mobile visits were at 14.17% only. I’m sure we have all heard that “mobile is the future of Africa”. I agree with that statement to some extent, but the data just does not seem to back it up, does it?

Like Chapaa is an “information/”news” type of website and I attribute the relatively high number of mobile visitors to this fact. I would argue that if you look at the visitor stats of a normal company website, you would get much fewer numbers of mobile visitors.

What does this mean? I am not sure, but, to me, clearly personal computers are still the dominant Internet device among Kenyans. Further to this, if you are building your company website do not put a significant amount of resources into developing a “mobile” version (unless you can afford it).

What do you think of all this?

Who Was Behind The Google Mocality Shenanigans? [Updated]

This is an update from yesterday’s big huge story of Google fraud against Mocality here in Kenya. Please read the article to learn what happened.

At the end of the day, Google issued a statement which read:

“We were mortified to learn that a team of people working on a Google project improperly used Mocality’s data and misrepresented our relationship with Mocality to encourage customers to create new websites. We’ve already unreservedly apologised to Mocality. We’re still investigating exactly how this happened, and as soon as we have all the facts, we’ll be taking the appropriate action with the people involved.” – Nelson Mattos

However you think about it, this is wrong. Terribly wrong. It is unacceptable for Google or anyone else to do this. Mocality should definitely press for legal remedies. However, as much as this is wrong, it is also stupid.

Google is a huge organisation. Surely what they stand to gain from doing this in Kenya is pocket change compared to their other earnings, right? Why risk so much PR damage for such little relative gain? This makes me feel that this was not ‘sanctioned’ at the highest levels of Google. It makes me feel that this was done at the ‘Kenyan’ level i.e. at Google Kenya. Of course it does not make it okay in any way, but it makes more sense than trying to think of why Larry Page (Google CEO) would agree to such a stupid plan in the grand scheme of things.

The ‘web directory’ industry in Kenya is very competitive right now (think of Nsoko, Craigslist, Mocality, and the tens and tens of other competitors) so of course what Mocality has managed to do is impressive and rightly so. Clearly, when Google set up KBO someone at Google was put in charge of this project and given the ‘orders’ to grow it aggressively.

Rumors flying about seem to suggest that Google hired an Indian company, iridium Interactive (they have since denied having any part in this), to help in the job of growing the KBO initiative. My guess is that iridium Interactive and possibly one or two people at Google Kenya:

  • Saw Mocality as a big competitor OR
  • Saw Mocality as an easy way to get people to use KBO (i.e. steal from the Mocality database) OR
  • All the above

So what did they do? They set up what they thought was a clever plan to use Mocality’s large database to their advantage: they started contacting the businesses listed by Mocality and offering them free websites via KBO. Makes sense, in a way, because most of the businesses listed at Mocality have no website. Here’s what one of the businesses contacted in this fradulent way had to say:

“OMG!!!!! We received a call on the office line (the one listed on Mocality) from India stating that they were offering website services. I think the guy on phone was Deepak or something (it sounded almost like a scam) the guy said he was from Google Kenya blah blah, we refused the offer as we already have a site. Then few days ago I was just searching our page when I stumbled upon our site on site…I mailed them n told them to take it down! aaaaaaaarg!!!!!!” – Lucia

So, well, the ‘Google’ guys contacted this business and offered to move them to KBO. This initial contact is important because at this point you can offer to sell a domain name to the business (because just building a website with KBO is free). So after the business declined this offer, the ‘Google’ guys went ahead and built them a site on KBO anyway. From this, it seems that the goals of the Google fraud were:

  1. To get as many businesses on KBO as possible. This was the main goal.
  2. To sell domain names to businesses which get on KBO (if possible). I believe this is why ‘Google’ did not just go ahead and build the businesses KBO sites without first contacting them and trying to sell the additional optional domain name.

So who is to blame? Google is. But I think that this ‘fraud’ was not sanctioned by the whole of Google. To me, it seems that iridium Interactive (they have since denied having any part in this) and some Google Kenya employees thought this scheme up as a clever (they thought) way to build up their new service quickly. It is sad that the whole of Google now has to deal with the mess of a few greedy individuals.

What do you think of all this?

Comment from iridium Interactive:

Dear Sir/ Madam
In the context of the latest conversations regarding the Scraping & Calling operations done on Mocality’s databse by Google, Iridium Interactive officially & categorically denies any involvement in these operations. Any allegations/ rumors indicating our involvement are baseless, false and grossly misinterpreted.

Juliet Gateri
Business Manager

Google Being Evil in Kenya

Today we hear the sad sad story of how Google is apparently behind a nefarious plot to steal business away from 🙁

For those that do not know, Mocality is one of Kenya’s largest business directories with over 170,000 verified businesses in its database. it has been in Kenya for a number of years.

Late last year, Google launched the “KBO” initiative to get Kenyan businesses online by offering them ‘free’ websites built on Google technology.

Clearly, Google had seen and concluded that Mocality is one of their biggest competitors as far as KBO goes. So what did they do? They hired/sponsored/authorized a team of people to systematically go through Mocality’s database and call each business listed therein. The caller then pretended that Google was in partnership with Mocality and asked the business to move to KBO. So, in effect, Google was lying to these businesses to get them to move from Mocality to KBO.

I’m sorry…. what? I thought Google’s mantra was “don’t be evil”?. I guess they thought they would not be caught since we are in, you know, Kenya.

Read more about this here: GOOGLE, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? 🙁

Nelson Mattos, Google’s Vice-President for Product and Engineering, Europe and Emerging Markets, writes:

We were mortified to learn that a team of people working on a Google project improperly used Mocality’s data and misrepresented our relationship with Mocality to encourage customers to create new websites. We’ve already unreservedly apologised to Mocality. We’re still investigating exactly how this happened, and as soon as we have all the facts, we’ll be taking the appropriate action with the people involved.

Juliani’s Adsense Campaign – An Analysis

Juliani advert

Juliani's advert

While surfing the web, I was very intrigued to see a Google Adwords advert of Juliani. As an Internet lover, this excites me! It is good to see that the ‘net has penetrated the country so much to the extent where musicians take out Google Adword ads! Nice, eh?

So I clicked the advert to see what, exactly, Juliani wanted to say. I was a little disappointed to see that the link led to Juliani’s profile on Google+. What does Juliani stand to gain by having his adverts lead people there?

  • He obviously will get his ads out on the big Internet and people will see them
  • People may watch the two music videos on the Google+ profile
  • He might get more fans/followers on Google+ (but keep in mind that relatively few people use Google+ in Kenya)

Now let’s think about this rationally. Was it really effective online marketing to have the adverts lead to a Google+ profile? I would argue that this, in fact, is a big mistake on Juliani’s part. Why? In my opinion, the return on investment is too low to be justifiable.

Think about it. Every single time that advert is clicked, Google charges a certain amount. So when I clicked that advert, Juliani paid Google. Now, Juliani is good at what he does and so he is fairly popular – how many more people clicked the ads? It is very easy for the costs to Juliani to skyrocket.

What is he getting out of it?
Before I saw the link, I already knew about and loved Juliani. I went to his Google+ profile, watched the videos and left. That’s just about as much as you can do. In my opinion, the purpose of marketing is to earn you money – directly or indirectly.

Juliani’s advert should have led to some sort of “call to action” which has a measurable relationship to something that can earn Juliani some money. Where can we buy his music online? When is his next concert, and where can I get a ticket? The sad thing is that Juliani already has a pretty good website which answers these questions. You can even buy his music online right now!

Why not link elsewhere? Is it really prudent to pass up an opportunity to show potentially thousands of people that they can purchase your music online?

Who made the decision to link the advert to Google+? Why not Facebook or Twitter – where I imagine many more Kenyans reside? What is the purpose of Juliani’s own website if not to be the center of his online marketing efforts?

A lot of people think that social media is the end all be all. No! It is not about getting more fans/followers. It is about placing your self/business in a position where you can easily and conveniently communicate and engage with your market so as to further your goals. As a business, the centre of all your online activities should never be on twitter or facebook, it should be on your own website. Social media is meant to engage with and funnel people to your website.

What should have Juliani done?
He should have created a custom landing page on his own website where those people who clicked ont he advert would be directed to. On this custom page, people would:

  • be given information on who Juliani is
  • be given the opportunity to follow Juliani on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ (it makes no sense to limit their interaction to only one network)
  • be given the opportunity to buy Juliani’s music online
  • be showed where to keep up to date on Juliani and his upcoming events

I would go as far as saying that right now Juliani is needlessly losing money!

PayPal Coming to Kenya in 2012?

Rumor has it that you will soon be able to withdraw your PayPal funds in Kenya legally and easily.

This could not have come at a better time since we spent last year going from disappointment to disappointment with all the new services and “tricks” that we had to try out in order to withdraw our PayPal money in Kenya.

That will be no more. PayPal is currently working with two leading Kenyan banks in an effort to bring us this needed service very soon.

We’ll update this when we have more information.