Kenya's Safaricom Partners Visa to Launch M-Pesa Virtual Visa Card for Global Digital payments

Kenya's Safaricom Partners Visa to Launch M-Pesa Virtual Visa Card for Global Digital payments

Safaricom, East Africa’s biggest telecommunication company and operator of the M-Pesa mobile money product, and Visa, one of the world’s major card payment companies, have announced the launch of a virtual card that allows M-Pesa customers to make digital transactions globally.

The long-awaited M-Pesa GlobalPay Visa virtual card was launched today as a result of the two firms’ partnership in 2020 to produce “solutions that would promote digital payments for M-Pesa clients.” Visa’s expanded reach across the continent will be further solidified through this partnership.

Safaricom also has global partnerships with PayPal, AliExpress, and Western Union, allowing customers to receive and send money globally.

The virtual card will enable Kenya’s over 30 million M-Pesa users to make cashless payments at Visa’s global network of over 100 million merchants in 200 countries. Users can use the M-Pesa mobile app or the USSD to activate the virtual card. Before now, M-Pesa users could only make mobile money payments to merchants in M-Pesa’s network of nearly 400,000 vendors.

Corine Mbiaketcha, the Visa vice president and general manager for East Africa expressed his satisfaction with the partnership, “Safaricom has changed how money moves in Kenya. We are pleased to be working together to build new and innovative payment products and services that will help merchants and customers in Sub-Saharan Africa overcome hurdles to global trade.”

“We are thrilled to be collaborating with Safaricom, especially given the current environment where we are seeing a hastened shift away from cash and toward digital payments. We are forging a new path for local payments by combining our large global network and experience with Safaricom’s local know-how and subscriber base, ” Mbiaketcha added.

M-Pesa, which was launched in 2007, is one of the world’s most dominant mobile money payment networks, with over 51 million users, including over 30 million in Kenya alone. It is also safe to say that it is one of Africa’s most well-known fintech products due to its numerous integrations, including financial institutions providing digital banking services and other partners in promoting cashless transactions.

According to Safaricom’s latest financial report, M-Pesa revenue increased by 38.3 percent to $927 million in the fiscal year ended March 2022, which makes it the telco’s largest revenue generator.

Safaricom operates M-Pesa in Kenya, while Vodacom of South Africa operates it through subsidiaries in Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, Lesotho, Ghana, and Egypt. After acquiring the M-Pesa brand and platform from their UK parent firm Vodafone Plc in 2020, Safaricom and Vodacom formed M-Pesa Africa as a joint venture.

Visa has also hinted at plans to form similar partnerships across Africa, potentially opening up a massive market for vendors looking to expand into Africa.

“Visa is committed to expanding the payments ecosystem across Africa by opening up the global marketplace for every single consumer. This partnership with Safaricom is an important step in helping to achieve this,” Mbiaketcha said.