High Court Rules Safaricom Did Not Steal M-PESA 1 Tap Idea

M-Pesa 1 Tap

Safaricom launched NFC-powered M-PESA 1 Tap back in 2017.

The product was released to allow contactless payments, and it would work for people who did not have smartphones (hence no need for an app) if they picked one of the NFC-capable bands, or cards.

However, the launch of the service, which has since been discontinued after the operator admitted it was a failure, was received by a backlash from a person who reported that Safaricom stole his idea.

The matter was taken to the courts, and over the years, there were deliberations to determine which party was at fault.

A month ago, we learned that the case would be decided, and the ruling has been released.

According to the courts, and as first reported by the Business Daily, Safaricom has won the case, meaning the accuser, Mr. Jonathan Murangiri Gikabu will not be paid the KES 209 million he had demanded from the operator.

The High Court under Judge Grace Nzioka dismissed the case because apparently, Mr. Gikabu failed to prove that Safaricom did really steal his idea.

According to the plaintiff, M-PESA 1 Tap was his idea as early as 2011. He says that he developed the product to allow faster payments for products and services at merchant outlets.

This would be done by tapping NFC-powered phones, stickers, or bands to a terminal without the need for taking many steps on a phone during the Lipa Na M-PESA process.

While the judge admitted that there was a possibility Safaricom did use Gikabu’s ideas, the burden of proof rested on him, and he failed to present evidence of the alleged theft.

Gikabu said he had shared the technology with the operator in good faith, only for the operator to go ahead and launch One Tap.

The idea, which was supported by a budget of near KES 10 million from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Equity Group, had also been presented by the accuser to the operator for an additional grant. The plaintiff had hoped Safaricom would treat the information in confidence.

Safaricom also defended itself that the technology had been out there, and was previously used in products such as Card Planet, the discontinued Beba Pay, and My 1963.

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