Kenya’s Safaricom and financial services giant Visa have introduced the first M-Pesa GlobalPay Visa Virtual card, a mobile-phone-based system that they say opens up global shopping for Kenyan consumers.
The card allows secure cashless payments at merchant locations in over 200 countries through Visa’s global network. Customers can activate the card via the M-Pesa app using their secret M-Pesa PIN. They will need to generate a temporary code to confirm online card transactions, manage their cards, set up repeat payments and access a statement.
The partners say that the M-Pesa GlobalPay Visa Virtual Card will be exclusive for international online payments outside the country to protect customers from incurring forex conversion costs on local online payments billed in Kenyan shillings.
According to Reuters, the card will allow users to securely pay 100 million foreign merchants like Amazon and Alibaba from their mobile phones, without the need for credit cards or accounts with processors such as PayPal. The virtual card is also targeted at the fast-growing subscriptions markets in Africa for services like Netflix and Spotify.
Once a customer performs a transaction with the card, they will receive an SMS with the current exchange rate for the transaction value. Transactions will be subject to current M-Pesa limits of KES 150,000 (US$ 1,282.55) per transaction and KES 300,000 (US$2,565.11) per day at the prevailing forex rates.
Safaricom says that the virtual card is a timely service tailored to meet the increasing needs of Kenyans using global apps and shopping websites for entertainment, retail, business and even when travelling abroad.
And Kenya is just the start. The aim is that the card will gradually be made available across other M-Pesa markets, including Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Lesotho and Ghana.