CAPTION: This white piece of shit called Ronald Webb while working with Safaricom, stole the 1-Tap Concept from a university student. But white-privilege saw him given a soft landing with an honorable exit.
Jonathan Gikabu here, a young Kenyan innovator and the founder of Innovase Limited, a tech start-up.
Having read your article today; “Damning Report Reveals That Safaricom Has More Female Employee’s Than Men”, I totally relate with your sentiments. Personally, I am a victim of Safaricom’s reluctance to invest in research and innovations and instead opting exploit young hardworking Kenyans who working their socks off to make ends meet.
Over the last 3 months, a dispute has been ongoing between myself and Safaricom Limited regarding the recently relaunched Mpesa 1 Tap solution, part of which is a replication of a solution I have worked on since 2014 as a student at the University of Nairobi and had shared with them in confidence. All efforts to engage the giant telco on the matter fell on deaf ears, as such we proceeded to court on the 16th of June 2017 to have the matter determined.
REPUBLIC OF KENYA
IN THE HIGH COURT OF KENYA AT NAIROBI
MILIMANI COMMERCIAL & ADMIRALTY DIVISION
CASE NO. OF 2017
JONATHAN MURANGIRI GIKABU….…….…… PLAINTIFF/APPLICANT
SAFARICOM (KENYA) LIMITED……..…… DEFENDANT/RESPONDENT
PLAINTIFF’S WITNESS STATEMENT
NAME: JONATHAN MURANGIRI GIKABU
RESIDENCE: NGUMBA ESTATE, RUARAKA
OCCUPATION: TELECOMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGIST
I am the Plaintiff herein and I wish to state as follows:
On 10th May 2017, Safaricom Limited launched a service known as M-pesa 1 Tap where one of the three solutions replicates an innovative NFC Mobile Payment System for Non-smartphones, my very own brainchild.
Safaricom Limited is not the originator of this idea. I worked on the building blocks of this idea back in Sep 2014 while working on an application for the 14th Round of the Grand Challenges Exploration funding under the topic ‘Enable Universal Acceptance of Mobile Money Payments’ by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.
After evaluation, on the 20th Feb 2015, I was notified of my application’s subsequent success and funding for Phase I to the tune of $100,000 through the Equity Group Foundation (my listed affiliate Organization since I was an Equity African Leaders Program Scholar) pending financial due diligence. Unfortunately, the foundation was not in a position to receive the grant at the time. In light of that development, I approached the Chairman of the Department of Physics at the University of Nairobi, Prof. Julius Mwabora, where I was a student at the time with an urgent request to have the university stand in as my affiliate organization, a request that the university approved and consequently the project’s experiments began from 1st May 2015 to 31st October 2016 at the Department of Physics.
It is worth noting that as I prepared my application for the grant in October and November 2014, I also made a point to share this novel Idea with Safaricom Limited (via Business-proposals@
During the last quarter of 2014, as I prepared the aforementioned application to the Gate’s foundation I also requested to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) with Equity Bank Limited having foreseen a situation where I would need to disclose confidential information regarding my innovative solution if successful to the Bank’s Foundation (EGF) who I had planned to list as my affiliate organization as noted earlier. The NDA was duly signed by Equity’s company secretary, Mary Wamae on 27th February 2015. This paved way for further engagements with the Bank primarily through my contact person Mr. Stephen Ebichondo, then an employee at the Bank. Initial introductory meetings were followed by follow up meetings and presentations to a couple members of staff especially after the 1st May 2015 project start date through to April 2016.
These very encouraging engagements on my value proposition culminated in a meeting with the then Group Director Payments, a one Mr. Ronald Webb, now working at Safaricom Limited as Director of Financial Services, also in attendance was Mr. Stephen Ebichondo. In twisted turn of fate, Mr. Webb termed the innovation as ‘a nice idea, not suited to Equity Bank at the time’. He went ahead to explain that Equity Bank Limited’s priorities were on growing their card payments market and the budding Equitel, the Bank’s mobile money platform. Even more perturbing was the instance where he quipped, “and what will stop us from implementing that without you anyway?”, implying that besides the bare innovation, I did not possess any muscle in terms of resources to be of any help in implementing my novel idea. Ironically, slightly over a year later this ‘prophesy’ has come to pass under his stewardship, albeit in another organization.
After that meeting, it dawned on me that Equity Bank was a dead end. I decided to go back to the drawing board and as usual figure out alternative ways to do something, in this case getting my product out there as it was my commitment as per the Grant Agreement to “make available and accessible the developments of my funded project at an affordable price”. After several months of soul searching, I decided to found Innovase Limited (Incorporated on 12th October 2016) which would be the entity that propels this and several other novel innovations to fruition. A cause I am still passionate about to this day.
On 4th May 2017, I came across an article on Tech-ish.com on Mpesa 1Tap and thereafter on 7th May 2017 received an unofficial poster image of Safaricom’s alleged planned service launch from one of my colleagues during the project via WhatsApp. As a gesture of good faith, I wrote to Safaricom on 8th May 2017 accompanied by four documents to substantiate my claims. I was eager to find out why and how 1Tap clearly encompassed lots of aspects from our confidential engagement with;
2. Mr. Ron Webb
Unfortunately, up until the filing of the Certificate of Urgency and the accompanying Plaint, Safaricom Limited have shown no interest whatsoever in replying to my Demand Letter dated 8th May 2017.My innovative NFC Mobile Payment System for Non-smartphones works as follows:
I. Merchant keys in the invoiced amount on the POS device
II. Phone is brought into close proximity with the POS device
III. The POS in turn reads the customer mobile money account ID from the NFC tag then places a debit request of the specific customer account via the operator’s network.
IV. The Mobile money operator network then sends an immediate onscreen PIN prompt to the user.
V. Once the user authorizes the transaction by keying in the correct PIN, both parties receive a message with the transaction confirmation details.
VI. Else the POS device displays a “Transaction Failed” message.
Safaricom’s Mpesa 1Tap service (as is on their official website) works as follows:
Making payments using M-PESA 1Tap
• Tap your M-PESA 1Tap tag onto the Point of Sale device
• You will then receive a pop up on your phone asking you to enter your M-PESA PIN for the transaction to be processedFrom the foregoing, it is evident that Safaricom Limited launched a service known as M-pesa 1 Tap where one of the three solutions replicates an innovative NFC Mobile Payment System for Non-smartphones in bad faith without consulting me which is a flagrant breach of the non-disclosure agreement with a keen eye of enriching itself in an undue manner.I wish to rely on the documents annexed to my plaint and pray that this honourable court do grant the prayers that I have sought there in.
That is all I wish to state.
DATED at NAIROBI this day of 2017
BINYENYA THURANIRA & CO.
ADVOCATES FOR THE PLAINTIFF
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