Imagine opening a bank account, looking for an insurance policy, window shopping for household goods, identifying the bank with the best foreign currency exchange rates and comparing fuel prices from the comfort of your home or office.
A year ago, it may have seemed like a far-fetched idea. However, it is now a reality since the first price comparison website was launched in Kenya last month.
Although price comparison websites are a common in the West, Kenya remained a virgin territory until May when Jijini Markets went live.
The website carries updated information on products price trends targeting the cost-conscious consumers and bringing convenience, for instance, when opening a new bank account or applying for an insurance cover or mortgage.
The portal is a brainchild of Boyani Hill Limited, an investment company with interests in the real estate sector and tech start-ups.
According to Henry Mugoya, Jijini Markets adviser, demand for the services prompted the launch of the platform as well a need to educate and empower local consumers with information on various products.
“Jijini Markets advocates transparency and convenience. Most banks and insurance sites have stale data but our price comparison portal gives the latest information,” said Mr Mugoya.
Jijini Markets gathers and aggregates price, products and other relevant information from third party sellers and present it to consumers in an accessible way. This enables buyers to easily get the best deals online by comparing prices for free, instead of plodding from one retailer to another.
To get updates, the price comparison website has teamed up with retailers, insurance companies and banks.
The online platform helps consumers to find and compare products of varying standards and spend less time than when visiting, for instance, a bank to open an account or when calling an insurance company to enquire about their products and rates.
Boyani Hill Investment Group injected Sh3 million seed capital into the launch of Jijini Markets. The website was built by Asilia Creative Limited, which develops and manages the technology powering the portal.
Mr Mugoya said that price comparison sites are vibrant in the West and believes that there is a huge potential in the local market. The platform is managed by Velma Mulindi, Mercy Chepkorir and Laurah Nziya who ensure that data stays updated and the online traffic grows.
Jijini Market hopes to develop products for retailers and schools as well as grow to a point where by it becomes a listed company on the securities exchange. Before December the company hopes to grow traffic to 10,000 visits a day from the current 2,000.
Also, in its strategic plan, the company expects to break even within two years and get banks and other institutions to subscribe for services posted on the portal in an aggressive marketing campaigns.
“Currently, we are working on increasing the number of partners and in establishing solid partnership with institutions from all sectors,” said Ms Nziya, the data partners manager at Jijini Market.
The easy access of prices online is set to trigger competition among players in different sectors that may result in lower prices as rivals race for customers.