Every other day, another fintech app shows up offering you prepaid top up. It is the same story: you are enticed to top up your

Nobody really needs prepaid top up via an app

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Every other day, another fintech app shows up offering you prepaid top up. It is the same story: you are enticed to top up your airtime with the app in order to get some reward.

Sometimes, the reward is free airtime. At other times, it is the offer of a higher credit limit on loans. Sometimes, it is some other reward. What the developers of these apps are missing is that above all else, people want convenience.

That means, as far as things go, prepaid top up apps are redundant and will largely not be used. Why?
Prepaid top up

Take my case as an example. I pick up my phone, open the phone dialer app, dial a simple USSD code and my prepaid line gets instantly topped up right from my bank account. It is so easy that it is sweet. I am done before you can say “prepaid top up”.

On the other hand, if I were to use one of these apps, I would pick up my phone, open the app, and go through the process of selecting my preferred network and amount, before then completing the transaction using my debit card details.

That is a fair example of the Israelites journey: spending 40 years to get to a 40-day destination.

I prefer convenience. But it isn’t a bad idea to ask, How much free airtime makes that convoluted process worth it? What users get as rewards for using prepaid top up apps is so minute that it isn’t worth the trouble.

Prepaid top up is big business, but…

Make no mistake about it: prepaid airtime top up is big business in every country under the sun. But offering the ability to top up airtime via an app is superfluous.

The business is a very marginal one and so requires big volumes for anyone to get solid returns. But the banks have that covered: a quick dial of a USSD code and voila! Who needs an app? Certainly not me.

But perhaps I am different from most others. So, maybe these apps stand some odd chance of success. But if what we have seen so far is anything to go by, it is fair to conclude that offering the service via an app, as is being done on all sides today, is fraught with problems.

Yet, almost every fintech app that is introduced these days offers you a means of recharging airtime. Not to mention, a new deluge of white label websites offering the same service. Do they see something I am not seeing or are they just doing what they see everyone else doing?

Get creative, guys. This is getting ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. I do not need an app or a website to top up my airtime. I have a simple USSD code for that.

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  1. I’ve never bothered with those apps. In less than 30 seconds I can recharge from my bank using USSD and even get a bonus. Why so much stress?

  2. I have a line that is never recognised by banks when I use USSD. A 0902 Airtel line. I can only recharge it via Paylater. One one thing, most of these apps apart from the defunct Zoto aren’t primarily Airtime Vending apps… Just like an ATM isn’t an airtime vending machine. This service is built in in case you just want to buy airtime after doing what ever took you there in the first instance. There’s always a good chance you’ll buy airtime after executing a financial transaction.

  3. The Jumia One is a good example of what you just describe. It’s 5% discount is a good incentive and I have been using it since USSD code had proved futile in loading one of my ported sim

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