Friday, November 07, 2008

The mChek Experience

Maha impressed by the Airtel mobile payment ads I decided to give it a try as I thought it will be helpful in at least recharging my wife’s Airtel prepaid phone. I sent the keyword to the airtel shortcode as per the ads and received the link to download the mChek client on to my phone. But the first impression after downloading and installing the application itself was bad as the mChek icon looked really ugly on my phone’s screen which also made me wonder if I have downloaded the right thing.

But I decided to forget and forgive and clicked on it to get mChek’s main screen which said pay Airtel. The UI again sucked big time (which was not the good looking screen which I seen in the ads) but by then I was ready to accept the fact that if it works it was good enough. Then came the screen which asked for my credit card number. I’ve been pretty OK in using my credit card to buy things online all these years but I kinda held back at this one. My concern was that if the makers haven’t spent time on making a decent user experience then how much time they would have spent to make my credit card info safe? I looked for some info which assured me it’s safe, but couldn’t find any. There were Airtel and Visa logos on the screen, but that didn’t really tell me anything. I closed the application and decided to forget about it.

Fast forward to the MoMo Monsoon event where I met Navin, director market development of mChek who gave a presentation of their product at the meet. At the q&a hour I asked Navin about the problem I faced when I used mChek; that how safe it was. Navin told me that mChek complies with the most stringent security measures ever and it was absolutely safe to use it. I then suggested that they could make users like me comfortable by just putting a line saying its safe to enter the credit card details. He immediately bought my point and also asked me to go through the app in detail and let him know my impression.

I came back home and with the newly acquired enthusiasm I decided to check out mChek again to recharge my wife’s phone. I ignored the bad user experience whatsoever and went on to enter the credit card number and it asked me to enter the pin number. It took some time for me to find out that the text field was selected by default even when there was some default text in it. I was actually trying to select the text field by clicking on it which gave me error message saying wrong pin number. Luckily I figured out my mistake (?) and then overcame that too. The credit card screen also had the same problem like the pin number entry screen but by then I had figured out how to use it. After entering the credit card number it showed me a message saying I can start doing m-commerce transactions (?) and to transfer money I should contact icici (what?). It also asked me to click OK to continue but they didn’t have anything called OK for me to click.

Once again I figured out that OK was hidden under the options menu. I selected the OK option and then selected the pay Airtel option which again gave me two options; Gift Talktime and Recharge for new. I didn’t know what to click on so I decided to call mChek support. I called their number and explained the problem and they said they cant help me with it and I have to call Airtel customer support. I called Airtel customer support and they explained to me some weird funda which I couldn’t understand. I chose to play safe by clicking on recharge for new and entered my wife’s phone number and the recharge amount Rs 333 and yippee I got a success message.

After some time I called my wife to ask if she got the Rs 333 topup. She checked and told me that she got only Rs 290. Now if I topup for Rs 333 from outside I normally get a full talk time and wondered why it didn’t happen when I did it from mChek. I called Airtel customer care again and explained my problem and they told me that recharging via mChek shouldnt be any different from other recharge means. But it was impossible for him to check the balance coz the system was down.

After a month when I was at work, my wife called me and asked me if I can recharge her phone as it was going to die. I hesitantly opened mChek, once again went through every option (by then I was a pro in using it) and entered the amount Rs 333 and submitted. This time I got a message saying I can’t recharge for Rs 333 anymore and I should try recharging for 186 bucks instead. I quietly closed the app and walked down towards the nearest shop and got a topup for Rs 333 which gave a full talk time too.

PS: Well I found a better way to recharge the phone next time… via icici online banking.
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