Visa and Kenya’s Safaricom launch virtual card to support global digital payments via M-Pesa

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Global digital payments giant Visa and East Africa’s largest telecommunications operator Safaricom, operator M-pesa Mobile Money today launched a virtual card enabling millions of M-Pesa users to make digital payments worldwide and expanding Visa’s reach across Africa.

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The launch of the M-Pesa GlobalPay Visa virtual card was the result of a partnership between the two companies formed in 2020 to develop “products that will support digital payments for M-Pesa customers.”

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The virtual card will allow 30 million M-Pesa users to make cashless payments across Visa’s global network of more than 100 million merchants in 200 countries. Users can activate the virtual card through the M-Pesa mobile app or via USSD. Previously, M-Pesa users could only make mobile money payments on M-Pesa’s network of nearly 400,000 merchants.

“Safaricom has changed the flow of money in Kenya. We are excited to work together to create new and innovative payment products and services that will help merchants and buyers in sub-Saharan Africa overcome the barriers to global trade,” said Visa Vice President and General Manager East Africa Corine Mbiaketcha in a statement. conference time. launch of a new service.

“We are very excited to partner with Safaricom, especially given the current environment in which we are seeing an accelerated transition from cash to 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,” said Mbiaketcha.

Launched in March 2007, M-Pesa remains one of the most powerful mobile payment networks in the world with a user base of 51 million (30 million in Kenya alone). It is also arguably the most recognized fintech product in Africa thanks to numerous integrations, including with financial firms to provide digital banking services and other partners to promote cashless transactions.

Kenya remains the most dynamic mobile money market in Africa and worldwide, with almost every adult using M-Pesa frequently to send, receive, withdraw or save money, or to pay bills to merchants. This popularity has made it the most profitable for Safaricom. The telecom company’s latest financial statement indicates that M-Pesa’s revenue rose 38.3% to $927 million for the year ended March 2022.

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

After launching in Kenya, Visa hinted that it would forge similar partnerships across Africa, opening up a huge market for merchants using Africa to grow.

“Visa is committed to expanding the African payments ecosystem by opening up a global market for every consumer. This partnership with Safaricom is an important step towards that goal,” said Mbiaketcha.

Safaricom’s other global partnerships include PayPal, AliExpress and Western Union, allowing customers to send and receive money worldwide.

As pointed out in a previous TechCrunch article, Visa has been heavily involved in venture capital and partnerships with African fintech companies over the past few years, announcing partnerships with payment startups Paga and Flutterwave, and investing $200 million in Nigerian financial services provider Interswtich.

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