Safaricom takes fight to global payment firms with M-Pesa App

Safaricom takes fight to global payment firms with M-Pesa App

Mpesa signage at a Safaricom shop along Banda Street, Nairobi. February 25, 2021. In 2017, Safaricom Chief Executive Bob Collymore sought to defend the company’s growth ambitions against a growing call to split the firm by hiving off M-Pesa from the rest of the business.

During an annual investor briefing, the late CEO responded to reports by the industry regulator and rivals that the telco was too big and posed a threat to competition in the sector.

“When you say we are too big, the question I ask is, too big compared to who?” he posed. “My competitors are the likes of Google and Facebook.”

Collymore was hinting at the trajectory the company had set its sights on, at a time when financial technology (fintech) service providers such as Branch and Tala were still dipping their toes in Kenya’s mobile lending sector. READ MORE

On Wednesday, this vision became clearer when the company launched the revamped M-Pesa App, a product that could propel Kenya’s largest mobile services firm into the global market and unlock billions of shillings in new revenue streams.

The app was unveiled in December 2020 in a pilot run that saw 1.3 million customers download it from the Google Play Store and Apple’s IOS Store. It comes with significant improvements that give it an edge over the USSD function.

Aside from the usual M-Pesa functions, the new app is embedded with several mini-apps that give users the convenience of running their most common mobile money functions without leaving the ecosystem.

Users can book a seat on the Standard Gauge Railway Madaraka Express, purchase insurance cover and order a new gas cylinder and have it delivered to their homes.

They can also view M-Pesa statements stretching back six months with a breakdown of each transaction, complete with charts that visualise their spending patterns over time.

Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, newly appointed managing director of M-Pesa Africa, says the app has been designed to go beyond just mobile transactions and into a lifestyle experience similar to offerings promised by Big Tech super platforms.

“The new M-Pesa Super App has integrated all the other Safaricom products including data, voice and SMS through a mini-app,” he said.“The reason for separation of the M-Pesa App from the Safaricom App is the way people use money is lifestyle-based and we want to be around the lifestyle of our customers.”Safaricom’s recent unveiling of M-Pesa Global, a joint venture with parent company Vodacom, gives M-Pesa […]

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