M-Pesa, the mobile money transfer service owned by Kenya’s largest telco– Safaricom, and Visa have launched a virtual payment card to enable Mpesa customers to make global transactions- buying and selling.
The M-Pesa Global Pay Visa Virtual card will allow users to securely pay 100 million foreign traders like Amazon and Alibaba from their mobile phones, without having to have credit cards or even a PayPal account.
The virtual card is also aimed at the fast-growing subscriptions markets in Africa for services like Netflix and Spotify, according to M-Pesa Africa Managing Director Sitoyo Lopokoiyit.
The virtual card is currently usable to more than 30 million M-Pesa users in Kenya and will be rolled out in Tanzania, Mozambique, Congo, Lesotho and Ghana by April 2023.
Mesa was launched 15 years ago as a simple money transfer service and now accounts for roughly half of Safaricom’s revenue as consumers use it for purchases, savings, borrowing and insurance.
“A lot of M-Pesa customers today don’t have bank accounts… it (the virtual card) is a catalyst for e-commerce and digital payments,” said Visa official Alex McCrea.
Transactions will be subject to the M-Pesa platform’s limits in the local Kenyan currency of 150,000 shillings ($1,285) for a single transaction and a daily limit double that. Users will be able to use the virtual card while travelling abroad.
Transactions on the virtual card will be secured with a unique security code sent to the user’s mobile phone and the user’s M-Pesa personal identification number.