This conversation has been ongoing and developers, with the knowledge of how Safaricom’s Mpesa access for Kenyan developers would boost scale for local developers. Safaricom has just 12% of the 20 million subscribers using smartphones, so the critical mass is within feature and dumb phones. The unbanked are even less with less than 10 million accounts in banks.
In developed markets, we have credit cards adoption quite high, something that is the exact opposite in emerging markets like Kenya. This is partly the reason why Mpesa is successful in Kenya. Developers have been literally begging to get access to the Mpesa API and be able to develop for an existing user base.
Today we have a definite time frame when the Mpesa API goes open. Veronica Ogeto, Head of Innovation at Safaricom while at a Pivot East 2014 fireside chat confirmed. “From between March to April 2015 Safaricom will open up Mpesa API as by then we will have already migrated the Mpesa hosting to within Kenya”, she announced adding that deploying apps and developing on the platform in it’s current form while hosted in Germany poses some technicalities.
While at the same fireside chat she mentioned that for you to submit an idea you value to Safaricom you need to first identify that it’s an idea when first going to them and sign some documents ahead of the sharing. Safaricom also opened up a test bed for testing USSD applications for developers, the pilot being at Strathmore University.
There will be opening this up to outside of Strathmore, but this will only be to developers within an institution as opposed to individual developers.