Google has integrated Kenya’s primary mobile payment service M-Pesa into its Google Play store as an alternative mode of payment, potentially opening up to more African consumers with no credit cards.
Safaricom’s M-Pesa lets customers to transfer money and pay bills via mobile phone and has 27.8 million users in the nation of 45 million people where Google’s Android platform dominates.
M-Pesa has been mimicked across Africa and in other markets. Previously, customers could only pay using credit cards, which are inaccessible to most Kenyans.
Mahir Sahin, head of Android partnerships in Africa says the firm is thrilled to bring Google Play carrier billing to Kenya, “Carrier billing is very important to the developer ecosystem in markets where credit card is very low, with this partnership, M-Pesa will play a critical role in the app ecosystem.”
Safaricom says integrating M-Pesa into Google Play is part of its larger objectives to evolve the service well-beyond the foundational money transfer offering.
Joseph Ogutu, Director of Strategy, Safaricom, said: “Partnerships have been instrumental in deepening the convenience and value of M-Pesa to our customers.”
According to Hiroyuki Sato, CEO of DOCOMO Digital, M-Pesa has long been an innovator and leader in the mobile money space. “We are very excited to partner with them to bring this service to market. First steps like this are absolutely essential on the journey to connecting consumers, merchants, operators and service providers together to create a fair and inclusive ecosystem for everybody.”
The move follows increased pressure across the continent for mobile money services to enable interoperability. Recently, M-Pesa partnered with Airtel Money to undertake a pilot of mobile money interoperability in Kenya ahead of a tentative launch of the cross-network service countrywide in March.