Airtime street vendors are not always there when you need them but thankfully machines don’t have to sleep at night. BroadPay has allocated self service airtime kiosks at Manda Hill and Woodlands shopping malls in Lusaka.
You’ve probably seen them and are curious about how they work so here’s a low down on the procedure. Note that these kiosks work 24 hours so feel free to try them out at 4 a.m when nobody’s watching and you can’t embarrass yourself if you press ALL the wrong buttons.
So first things first, you have to slot in the desired amount of Kwacha note(s) for the airtime you want to buy, choose the mobile service provider you’re buying from i.e, MTN, Airtel or Zamtel, and then enter your number. The system is so smart it will detect that your number is too short or long so you can edit it, but it won’t correct the number for you.
The next step is to verify the amount and number you’re topping up. If everything looks good to you then proceed and your transaction will be done almost immediately. It’s very easy once you get used to it.
The advantages of this system are that you don’t have to travel long distances especially at awkward hours to top up or look for the owner of a kantemba (kiosk) to open up and sell you some airtime. You can walk to any conveniently placed vending machines in your area.
These machines are not only for airtime but also other utility bills as well although currently the only people who have partnered are Airtel, MTN and Zamtel. We expect other utility companies like electricity, paid TV and water and sewerage companies to jump on board soon.
According to their Retail Proposal, BroadPay has the following benefits that make them unique:
- Simplicity, Convenience and all in one payment solution
- Technical and customer support offered
- Terminals can be placed at unique sites (canteens, pubs, taverns)
- All the terminal needs, is a 3 prong plug and use as little electricity as a regular PC.
- Terminals are stand alone and self-service.
- One balance for all stock saved on BroadPay Server.
- Reliable, tried and tested software for over 9 years managing over 1000 services internationally.
The Payment System Wallet One in Zambia (BroadPay Zambia Limited) is working in partnership with LMC Capital Limited and Wallet One Russia (who manage over 10million transactions over 300 000 terminals installed in over 17 countries).
Ofcourse there are setbacks like power blackouts/loadshedding meaning the machines cannot work when there’s no power. They also have competition from mobile money which doesn’t require you to walk anywhere at all and you can buy airtime from wherever you are as long as you have your phone. However, network operators don’t always work and mobile money transfers may take forever to be processed so the machine is an even better option.
Then there’s also the issue of ignorance. Yes, people may see the machines but may not be able to understand the labels because unfortunately not every one in Zambia can speak and read English. So they don’t get the benefit of using the machines however close they may be. They will have to be shown how to use them and this will most likely be considered a waste of time so they will just rather go to a shop or kiosk or street vendor to buy their airtime or pay their bills.
Pictures courtesy of BroadPay