M-Pesa goes global with new deal

Safaricom has launched a partnership with global e-commerce site, Aliexpress.com, allowing consumers to pay for their shopping using M-Pesa.

This is the latest in a string of partnerships Safaricom is banking on to bolster M-Pesa’s position in the country’s mobile payments sector.

Aliexpress is owned by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, whose founder and Chief Executive Jack Ma was in the country last year as part of the firm’s drive to incorporate African vendors and shoppers into the global value chain.

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“Our more than 21 million customers can now enjoy the safety, reliability and convenience of M-Pesa when shopping on Aliexpress,” said Safaricom Chief Customer Officer Sylvia Mulinge in a statement.

“This partnership seeks to connect Kenyans to even more business opportunities by enabling them to seamlessly source, purchase and import goods from the world’s leading manufacturer.’’

The partnership is also a move by Safaricom to hedge from prospective competition in the form of international mobile wallets angling for a slice of the region’s lucrative payments sector.

A recent analysis by Citibank Group estimated Kenya’s e-commerce could be worth as much as Sh500 billion in the long-term.

“Growth in online transaction volumes and the number of payments settled via e-wallet should drive payment fee revenue,” explained the report in part.

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“Based on the size of market revenues, the additional revenue opportunity for M-Pesa, we see an opportunity for Sh200 million-Sh1 billion revenues to be generated from e-commerce transactions annually,” added the report

Shoppers on Aliexpress will be presented with M-Pesa as one of the options to make payments, with transactions denominated in Kenyan shillings. For the time being, however, the functionality is only active on the Safaricom App.

“Mobile has the ability to pull down some barriers to trade by enabling global e-commerce and this partnership with Ant Financial Services marks yet another important milestone not just in Safaricom’s efforts to take M-Pesa beyond Kenya but to Kenya’s participation in the international e-commerce marketplace,’ said Ms Mulinge.

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M-PesaChief Executive Jack MaSafaricom