Another tie-up between a mobile operator – in this case Safaricom – and a major digital payments company may not be much of a surprise, but it certainly confirms a growing interest from major names across the cashless payment sector in Africa’s mobile money market.
Safaricom, Kenya’s largest mobile operator, and leading digital payments company Visa have announced a partnership that will enable the development of products that will support digital payments for M-Pesa customers.
Subject to regulatory approval, the partnership will cover over 24 million M-PESA customers, more than 173,000 Lipa Na M-Pesa merchants from Safaricom and more than 61 million merchant locations throughout Visa’s global network, as well as over 3.4 billion Visa cards in more than 200 countries and territories.
With this joint effort, Visa and Safaricom say they will seek to eliminate barriers to global commerce and offer an expanded set of mobile e-commerce capabilities to merchants and consumers by enabling secure and convenient cashless payment solutions.
Lipa Na M-Pesa, loosely translated as ‘pay with M-Pesa’ has two components. ‘Pay Bill’ is for remote payments. The customer has an official relationship with the organization to which they are making payment and has an ‘account number’ that helps identify the user. The customer inputs a business number for the entity they are paying.
‘Buy goods and services’ is mostly for retail purchase of goods and services. Both parties immediately confirm these proximity payments via text message. No relationship between the buyer and the organization or account number is required.
There has been a lot of activity in this space recently. Apart from deals involving major names like Comviva and Orange Money, not to mention official initiatives to make cashless payments easier during the current health crisis, last year saw a partnership with Mastercard that will give over 100 million Airtel Africa mobile phone users across 14 African countries access to Mastercard’s global network.