Breaking Legacy Barriers for Telecom to Fintech
With 96 percent coverage across Kenya, telecom provider Safaricom PLC is innovating its digital services. In 2007, it was the first company in the world to provide a mobile money transfer service. Since then, it has grown extensively in its operations and is a leader in the telecom market.
Safaricom's core value is Twende Tukiuke, meaning "let's break barriers" or "take the leap." Taking a leap into its digital future, Safaricom chose TIBCO's Connected Intelligence solutions to help break through legacy barriers.
Legacy Technology Stands in the Way
To reach its goal of becoming a "purpose-led, customer-obsessed, technology company" by 2025, Safaricom needed to overcome some challenges; Siloed operational and legacy platforms within its business support systems (BSS) were standing in the way.
With its long history and large stores of information, Safaricom struggled to use customer data effectively and lacked the agility to respond to changing market dynamics. It was taking too long to roll out products to meet customer demand and increase customer satisfaction. Additionally, a complex API gateway for its mobile money stack (M-Pesa) led to difficulties in maximizing customer value and providing customers with key services. Additionally, a lack of fraud detection led to increased numbers of fraudsters calling customers.
Safaricom's goal was to create omnichannel experiences to enhance customer satisfaction and grow market share. The company aimed to implement fraud detection and reduction, specifically with SIM replacements and accelerate innovative services. To achieve these goals, the company needed to overcome its technological struggles and better integrate its systems.
Calling All Customers: Transformation Is Here
Turning to TIBCO and global strategic partner TechSoft International, Safaricom adopted the TIBCO Cloud Integration platform to leverage scalability and business agility. The API-led platform provides standardized and flexible connectivity with event-driven capabilities, providing fast responses and intelligent action for the large telco.
According to Alex Lagat Kipkirui, tribe technical lead of mobile data and terminals, “We realized that with TIBCO we can get capabilities like cloud-native integrations and push Safaricom's competitive edge through API-led integration."
Safaricom worked with TechSoft International because of its experience in integrating every aspect of an organization, from people and devices to systems and APIs. That interconnection prepares companies to then capture data in real time to augment business and analytical insights.
Enhanced API Management
With the new platform, Safaricom replaced its monolithic architecture with microservices and cloud-native APIs to provide enhanced billing services, securing 99 percent loan repayment by all customers on its Okoa (Swahili for “save”) credit platform. Additionally, it connected all its best products and services—building on and innovating all major operational, customer, and employee systems to accelerate its time-to-market.
Kipkirui states, "The network and enterprise departments needed a more flexible workflow management tool. And that's when we purchased additional TIBCO Business Process Management (BPM) solutions for workflow purposes, network rollout, and enterprise automation."
The TIBCO BPM platform provides much needed workflow management for the technology services department. It enables key services like message and protocol transformation for integration, mediation through adapters, and infrastructure management for monitoring, login, auditing, and API metering.
Accelerated Business Models
Additionally, Safaricom created new business models that accelerated business initiatives. Tangible value is being delivered to customers, employees, and shareholders through an improved customer experience, enterprise-ready solutions, digitization, automation, revenue growth, innovation, and cost savings.
Kipkirui states, "Safaricom has also invested in IoT in a big way, and TIBCO is powering that. We achieve operational excellence by adopting aiOps. That's why we purchased TIBCO Data Science solutions, mainly for operationalizing AI."
One of Safaricom's primary business channels is its banking app. The M-PESA super app revolutionized banking and payments systems in Kenya by enabling customers to send, receive, and store money safely and securely via a mobile phone e-wallet. Launched in 2007, it was the first mobile money transfer service in the world.
Kipkirui states, "We grew the footprint of TIBCO's best integrations by setting up a separate domain with all the required security measures to ensure that integration to M-PESA was very, very secure and could not be broken. We also ensured that the throughput from TIBCO can support at least 2,000 transactions per second."
Enhanced Customer Experiences
Safaricom also enhanced its customers' experience for SIM card replacements. Prior to the architecture change, there was a limitation of 10,000 SIM replacements per day through the call center, resulting in increased foot traffic and wait times at the Safaricom retail outlets, which negatively impacted customer experience. After implementing TIBCO BusinessWorks Container Edition software to support modern integration trends, Safaricom achieved better system stability, which had been an earlier concern. It implemented self-service kiosks to provide advanced services like SIM replacements, handling over 25,000 SIM replacement requests. By offloading agents, the kiosks also increased service capacity and decreased wait times. The company achieved an improved customer experience, received fewer service calls, and increased throughput, which directly contributed to higher revenues.
Kipkirui states, “Safaricom used to have it where a customer replaced their lost SIM cards by calling the call center and then using a voice biometric platform. Now, we are in the process of implementing self-service kiosks to ensure they can go to a kiosk and do the same SIM replacement. That API is the same one used by the call center agents, either via the app, USSD, or the web. And through this API enablement, we now have omnichannel options,
guaranteeing a good customer experience."
Breaking Telco Barriers for the Future
TIBCO and TechSoft International provided Safaricom with the solutions needed to become an insights-led, technology driven, customer-centric telecommunications company. With digitization and automation capabilities, it is creating an omnichannel experience for customers and realizing new levels of revenue growth, customer experience, innovation, and cost savings.
With TIBCO's integration platform, Safaricom offers a robust service that allows for at least 60,000 registrations per day, increasing its customer base 12 percent year-over-year. Additionally, the company has implemented at least 200 APIs on its common service model, allowing it to adopt the best practices for integration and reusability. It replaced its monolithic architecture with microservices and cloud-native APIs to provide enhanced billing services. And it scaled to 450,000 customers, driving $500,000 additional monthly revenue.
Kipkirui concludes, "Safaricom is big on agile working, and TIBCO's devOps capabilities allow us to optimize our toolchain and ensure that we reduce latency between testing and production, and human errors during deployment, with automated API testing. In the long run, we are reducing our time-to-market and order-to-cash period."
Through the use of the TIBCO Cloud Integration platform, Safaricom grew its average revenue per month for the M-PESA fintech ecosystem—increasing merchant growth by 20 percent and reducing developer onboarding time by 80 percent. Developers can now onboard in one day compared to the previous three months—immediately impacting projects. So far, M PESA has almost 46 million active customers and over 550,000 active agents operating across seven countries—over $205 billion worth of transactions.
Overall, TIBCO and TechSoft International have given Safaricom the opportunity to scale as a technology leader and provide customers with the best digital services that are helping transform lives across Kenya—and truly embracing Twende Tukiuke.