In areas with low credit-card penetration, such as most of sub-Saharan Africa, mobile money allows for more transactions with international e-commerce firms that only accept card payments. Google is leading the way in tapping into this market and boosting downloads. Telecommunications giant Safaricom is the home of M-Pesa, which is a mobile money platform in Kenya that facilitates easy money transfers and bill payments through your mobile phone. M-Pesa currently has 27,8 million users in a country of 45 million people. Here, Google’s Android platform dominates, making this match a no-brainer.
Speaking on behalf of Safaricom, Joseph Ogutu, the company’s Director of Strategy, said in a statement, ”The partnership is set to empower customers to access Google Play content.”
Mahir Sain, head of Africa Android partnerships at Google, which is owned by Alphabet Inc, said, “Carrier billing is very important to the developer ecosystem in markets where credit card penetration is very low. With this partnership, M-Pesa will play a critical role in the app ecosystem.”
Users of the Android platform will now have an additional payment option. This is an improvement on the previous system, which only took payments by credit card. Safaricom partnered with London-based Japanese global payments platform provider DOCOMO Digital to enable users to pay through M-Pesa, both firms said.
Hiroyuki Sato, the CEO of DOCOMO Digital, said its biggest goal is to break down barriers and develop ways in which the 5 billion global adult population can engage with the digital ecosystem.
“M-Pesa has long been an innovator and leader in the mobile money space, and 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 irony is, however, that while Kenyans are now able to make purchases through M-Pesa, there remains a gap for locals who want to sell their applications on the platform, because Google does not allow for the registration of merchant accounts from Kenya, which is necessary if you want to sell on its platform.