Safaricom eyes counties, universities in hunt for M-Pesa revenue

MyCounty will be accessible through a USSD short code, Android and iPhone App for all counties, and a mini-app on the M-Pesa Super App. [File, Standard]

Leading telecommunications service provider Safaricom is betting on county governments and universities for new revenue streams for M-PESA as the payments services sector grows more competitive.

Last week, Safaricom unveiled myCounty, a platform that helps counties digitise all their services in one place.

The app, which was first launched in Makueni County, includes payment for county services, revenue management systems, a citizen reporting and engagement tool and solutions around agriculture, health, utility bills and SME programmes.

Safaricom says all the 47 counties will be gradually onboarded on the platform in the coming months.

“myCounty provides individuals and organisations with a single, convenient point where they can access, manage, and pay for all county services,” said Safaricom Chief Executive Peter Ndegwa.

“The service will be available for all 47 counties as a smartphone app, web portal and short code and will integrate both current and upcoming services irrespective of the County’s provider of choice, and in addition, provide a management portal.”

Makueni Governor Mutula Kilonzo Jnr said the app will help break barriers that limit development aside from creating convenience and accessibility for residents. “This app is a tool for leadership, for inspiring our citizens to be bold and visionary in their thinking and to embrace the power of change to create a better county for themselves and generations to come,” he said.

“It is a recognition that the power to change the world is within each and every one of us.”

Makueni Governor Mutula Kilonzo Jnr. [Denis Kibuchi, Standard]

MyCounty will be accessible through a USSD short code, Android and iPhone App for all counties, and a mini-app on the M-Pesa Super App which will offer county services and payments including parking fees, single business permit fees, market cess, land rates, property rates amongst others. 

Users of myCounty can also access services from other counties which will enable payment of parking fees and other common fees. The app will also provide a “Sema Na Governor” feature empowering residents to engage their Governor or report issues.

Empower beneficiaries

Users will also access key county and emergency services including requests for fire, ambulance and police services.

The launch of myCounty came hot in the heels of a new partnership with the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) to create a Helb Mobile Wallet and Helb M-Pesa Mini App to help all beneficiaries manage their accounts.

The Helb Mini App will allow beneficiaries to access their Helb funds for upkeep, withdraw funds, repay loans, apply for subsequent loans, view their loan status and access their statements.

“This partnership with Safaricom will empower beneficiaries with even more convenience and greatly enhance their experience when accessing funds and our services,” said Helb CEO Charles Ringera.

Data from the company’s latest annual report indicates that the company currently has more than 51 million subscribers on M-Pesa across seven countries with 30 million monthly active users in Kenya. 

The M-Pesa mini-apps provide third party a platform to offer their products and services directly on the M-Pesa App to minimise customers’ experience. So far, 36 mini apps with an average of 400,000 monthly users are housed in the ecosystem with the firm seeking to broaden this to more. 

Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Safaricom reported Sh107 billion in M-Pesa revenue and Sh83.2 billion from voice with profit after tax standing at Sh69 billion; the highest in a listed company in the East African region.

The two partnerships announced days apart come in the wake of increased competition in the digital payments sector.

Earlier this year the Central Bank of Kenya, CBK announced the licensing of 12 new digital credit providers.

This followed the licensing of 10 other providers in September last year with the CBK stating it has received significant interest by prospective operators in the lucrative field. “CBK has received 381 applications since March 2022 and has worked closely with the applicant in reviewing their applications,” said the CBK in a statement.

“Additionally CBK has engaged other regulators and agencies pertinent to the licensing process, including the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner.”

According to CBK, this is to ensure that service providers comply to the data protection Act and adequate consumer safeguards are put in place.