Google Play apps and games store has started accepting payments in Kenya through popular mobile money platform M-Pesa, to boost downloads in a market where many people do not used credit cards.
Safaricom, the telecommunication giant behind MPESA said on Thursday that it had partnered with London-based global payments platform provider, DOCOMO Digital, to enable users pay through M-Pesa.
“This is very important to the developer ecosystem in markets where credit card penetration is low,” said Mahir Sain, head of Africa Android partnerships at Google, which is owned by Alphabet Inc.
M-Pesa, which enables customers to transfer money and pay bills via mobile phone, has 27.8 million users in the nation of 45 million people where Google’s Android platform dominates. M-Pesa has been mimicked across Africa and in other markets.
Safaricom has 13 million smart phones on its network, most of them using the Android platform.
Safaricom has been looking to expand M-Pesa for some time, as reported in 2017, but its hands have been tied by the wishes of its parent company, Vodafone, according to PYMNTS.com. The company is much larger than its two main competitors in the local mobile market, with 29.4 million users — 71.9 percent of Kenya’s total market. It is 35 percent-owned by South African group Vodacom and 5 percent-owned by Vodacom’s major shareholder Vodafone.
The site further writes that in January, Kenya’s telecom regulator reportedly backed off a plan that would have seen the firm’s financial services and telecommunications functions divided off from each other. The move was considered due to Safaricom’s massive size.
It also came about following the recommendation of a report on competition in the sector that leaked last year after it had been circulated for commentary. The report explicitly recommended that the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) break up Safaricom, the biggest firm in Kenya by market value.