Safaricom finally rolled out its newest product on Wednesday, M-Pesa 1 Tap. The solution, as its name suggests, is a Tap and Go payment method that enhances the monetary settlement of services and products for M-Pesa customers.
According to Safaricom, the pilot for this service has been ongoing for some time, having started as an internal program where 1500 of Safaricom employees participated by paying for meals at the telco’s café using an NFC-enabled Card.
Reports have however emerged that the mobile service provider stole the idea from Jonathan Gikabu, Managing Director Innovase Limited.
According to George Murithi, who also works at Innovase, Jonathan has been working on the 1Tap idea since 2014. Jonathan who formerly worked for Equity Bank, is said to have presented the idea to Ron Webb who works for Safaricom.
The application, according to Jonathan, was funded for phase 1 for a total amount of 10 million Kshs. through the Equity group and later the University of Nairobi where the experiments began on 1st of May, 2015 to 31st October, 2016.
Ron, according to George was bound by a Non-disclosure Agreement (NDA) which he did not honour, hence presenting the idea to Safaricom as his own.
According to a letter addressed to Dr. James Mwangi, CEO Equity Bank, Jonathan requested to enjoin equity bank in a confidentiality dispute against Safaricom. “We seek to enjoin Equity Bank Limited in this engagement with Safaricom Limited whether legal or otherwise in its capacity as the former employer of Mr. Ron Webb,” the letter read in part.
The letter states that Jonathan shared the idea with Safaricom in confidence through Ron Webb, Director for Financial Services.
“Ron Webb was a part of a team of individuals, I shared the idea with at Equity Bank Limited bound by another comprehensive NDA between 2015 and 2016,” the letter read.
An email doing rounds on the inter webs shows Jonathan asking Ron Webb for a meeting to discuss his NFC payment system for non- smartphones.
Murithi Gitonga took to social media after Safaricom rolled out the 1 Tap product accusing the mobile service provider of theft. He said that Innovase would go after Safaricom for stealing their idea without their acknowledgement.
The 1 Tap solution is currently in Nakuru county but will soon be launched in all the 47 counties.
Safaricom has neither confirmed nor denied the said allegations.