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USSD or app: Case of Mo626 Digital

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National Bank of Malawi (NBM)’s Mo626 mobile money platform is both in USSD and app flavours. In USSD, it is cipher enabling a converse with the bank’s computers. As an app, it is a software application running on your Android or iOS smartphone. Observe smartphone not a MOS handset.

Mo626 Digital is the app. We shall conveniently call the USSD variant, Mo626 ice. The former is downloadable from Google Play, if you belong to Android religion or Apple store, if you are a descendant of the ingenious but narcissist-disorder personality, Steve Jobs.

Mo626 ice, on the other hand is a language, you don’t need any software downloaded and running on your computer. You just start talking to NBM’s computers in * and # code.

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The app is not usable once downloaded. A visit to a National Bank hall is necessary. After filling a form, login credentials are wired via SMS. I hysterically whined and the bank kindly reverted, “it is for security bwana, and is from hind sight”. The rest is, not for you to know.

Two login keys are provided; M-Pin is the main one for logging in and T-Pin is for authorizing own transactions. Surely that is more solid secure than Mo626 ice, where once you log in, can do whatever is imaginable.

Transferring money between own bank accounts is bliss. Using a pull-down menu, you choose the benefactor and beneficiary. With Mo626 ice, you have to remember the recipient account number.

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The cardless ATM-withdraw feature is gorgeous. Carrying around ATM cards is antiquated. With this, you send money to a mobile wallet, proceed to the ATM, punch a number and behold, money is vomited. You can indeed, send the wallet to an NBMnon-account holder.

Viewer discretion; I am going to be mean; NBM could have implemented this on the USSD Mo626 ice. FDH did, long time ago, for that matter.

Giving credit where it dully belongs, Mo626 Digital is light-weight. With just a mere 1 GB RAM on my cheap smartphone, the system never complained, things happened ecstatically.

On the downside, the app is propelled by data. Yes, Airtel/TNM’s expensive data. When you’re broke, there is no choice but to revert to cranky Mo626 ice. The analogy of a man who reverts to a divorced wife whenever the pockets can’t sustain an expensive and beautiful damsel.

Can such apps run without data? There some that do; Airtel App and so is TNM Smart APP. These are like minibuses that belong to the chief traffic cop; their drivers never get arrested.

Airtel App lets you manage airtime/data bundles and Airtel money in one offering. TNM Smart App does the same with smooth menus but there is no Mpamba mix in the bargain. Mo626 can but somebody has to pay upfront for the data. Not sustainable, or is it?

The views expressed herein are that of the columnist and not the publication.

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