In a move aimed at accelerating payments using Safaricom’s Lipa na M-Pesa merchant solution, Safaricom is conducting a pilot for a Lipa na M-Pesa card. The pilot is taking place internally with 1,500 of its employees using the card to pay for their meals at the company’s cafeteria. The card, mirrors a user’s M-Pesa account, meaning whatever amounts are in your M-Pesa wallet are reflected in the card. The card is NFC enabled where a user can Tap and Go at the point of checkout when making purchases for goods and services.
The plan for the telco is to provide merchants with point-of-sale terminals which are NFC enabled, where users can complete these transactions. The Lipa na M-Pesa card is also said to be Chip and Pin enabled, a measure adopted to improve the security of payments solution.
Safaricom has been looking to innovate around its M-Pesa mobile money solution since the relocation of its servers from Germany. The first step in this direction was the opening up of the M-Pesa API to developers. Although late, this allowed for the completion of both consumer-to-business transactions, where a business can charge a customer directly from their M-pesa account, without need for USSD prompts. There was also the Business-to-Business build implement by financial institutions allowing clients to make direct bank transactions on the M-pesa platform.
NFC was definitely the next point of revolution for M-Pesa and this is certainly an interesting development. The pilot is said to last 4 months after which the card may go public or be shelved off. Should it go live we can expect to have the card by October according to our sources. In 2014, Airtel Kenya partnered with Chase Bank to launch the Airtel Visa card, which mirrored a user’s Airtel Money account thus allowing them to make online payments as well as ATM withdrawals. The card is still in active use though not much has been heard of the card in recent times though.
We shall certainly keep you in the loop as we get to know more about the card.