M-PESA to offer tap-to-pay card payments to over 60 million customers

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December 17, 2023
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2 min read
M-PESA physical debit card
Image source: Safaricom

The News

  • M-PESA, Safaricom’s mobile money platform, has built on its partnership with Visa to provide tap-to-pay card payments to customers.
  • This new development marks a step forward for the payment giant in broadening its service offerings beyond its virtual offering, which had previously lagged in the cash-reliant retail industry. 
  • M-PESA’s 60 million customers can use the new payment option to receive mobile payments and online and in-person card payments from anyone across the globe.

In June 2022, the Kenyan fintech company partnered with Visa to launch the M-PESA GlobalPay Visa Virtual Card, empowering over 30 million M-PESA customers to shop globally and pay securely at the time. 

But this virtual card could only be used online, rendering it inefficient at the country’s ubiquitous physical retail stores. 

However, launching these physical cards marks M-PESA and Visa's second collaboration in less than two years to enhance international payments. It also bodes well for M-PESA, which has transformed digital payments in Kenya but has yet to penetrate the country's retail space. 

In Kenya, debit cards are still uncommon. With a countrywide debit card penetration of only 22%, M-PESA is still in its early stages. The fintech company leads the Kenyan mobile money market share at 96.5%, positioning it to solve payments in the country that require physical debit cards.

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Vodafone and Safaricom, Kenya's largest mobile operator, launched M-PESA in 2007. In 16 years, the mobile money platform has expanded to Tanzania, DR Congo, Egypt, South Africa, Ghana, Mozambique, and Lesotho. 

The mobile money platform says it has over 60 million customers, 5 million businesses, and 100,000 developers across its entire ecosystem. Although the mobile money market in Kenya is dominated by Safaricom's M-PESA, it has other players, including Airtel Money and Orange Money.

It remains to be seen whether M-PESA will be able to replicate its digital success in the country's cash-based retail market. 

In February 2023, M-PESA announced its partnership with Amazon to provide global remittance services.

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