The thought of integrating MPESA into our businesses tends to come with a lot of questions. Am I doing my business a favor? Are the costs incurred worth it? Worry not, it is not as intricate as it seems. Before we dive into the nitty gritty we should first understand the general concept that is MPESA. This is a name that will never be erased from the entire history of Fintech.
What started as a means to ease the process or repayment of microloans has quickly turned into the biggest mobile money transfer in the country and is a household name. It is recognized globally and has expanded to Tanzania, Mozambique, DRC, Ghana, Egypt, Afghanistan, Lesotho, and South Africa. It is fast, offers affordable, and generally saves the customer’s time as the trip to the bank that is riddled with long queues is eliminated.
With schools reopening after their closure of about 10 months, parents are all rushing to pay school fees for their children thus brings us to one of the ways MPESA is incorporated into day-to-day activities. The Lipa Karo service eases the process of paying school fees as it’s completed in simple and short procedure and can be done from wherever meaning the person paying the school fees can do it from the comfort of their own home.
Once an institution signs up for the Lipa Karo paybill number, they are issued with a business number that parents and guardians can use to make the payments. One can always obtain a Paybill or till number online.
This works like a normal paybill and the user journey is the same as making a regular payment. One simply goes to the Lipa na MPESA option on the app and selects Paybill. Next, the business number that is provided by the school is keyed in. If unsure of the business number, a USSD code (*234#) is used where the school name is the keyword. Once the payment is done, Safaricom sends the generic confirmation message and the process is completed.
From a Technical perspective:
This process makes use of Safaricom’s C2B API. The customer sends a payment request to the paybill from their mobile phone. MPESA receives the request and internally validates it first. By default, external validation is disabled and a special request has to be made to MPESA Business to enable it. If enabled MPESA sends a validation request to the validation URL registered for the school. The third-party (the school) validates the request and thereafter sends back a relevant message to MPESA. This has to be done within 8 seconds or the endpoint will be considered unreachable. MPESA then proceeds to act on the transaction according to the response given.
If the transaction is completed, MPESA now sends a confirmation request to the confirmation URL with the usual details of any transaction for example Transaction ID and time of payment. If canceled from the third party’s side, MPESA simply cancels the payment. What happens in external validation is disabled? MPESA automatically completes the transaction and sends a confirmation request to the Confirmation URL. This is the only API call that will be received as opposed to the two API calls received when external validation is enabled.
If there are no URLS registered, MPESA simply completes the request. Lastly, a generic MPESA message is sent to the customer and owner of the paybill with all the relevant details.
BY FAITH MWANYOLO