We rely so much on M-Pesa that the government now sees the service as a liability in the unfortunate case that it goes offline. Since its inception 10 years ago, the service has seen some neat additions and innovations to make it better. Lipa na M-Pesa, Hakikisha and M-Shwari are just a few of such additions.
Safaricom also released an API to enable developers integrate Lipa na M-Pesa into their websites, allowing customers to pay for goods and services without the requirement of USSDs and opening menus. As a bold step forward, Safaricom showed interest in creating an M-Pesa card that would allow for easier Lipa Na M-Pesa payments. Airtel has such a card, powered by VISA, allowing customers to use the card (which is connected to their Airtel Money account) for payments both online and offline.
Safaricom has been working on the M-Pesa card, dubbed M-Pesa 1 Tap, since 2016 and it seems like the pilot was successful as we have word that the card could soon be rolling out to the general public, starting with Nakuru town.
According to Nairobitech, Safaricom is rolling out 500,000 Point of Sale (POS) systems to compliment the M-Pesa Card. The M-Pesa card will allow customers to pay for goods and services at specific outlets with the POS system, just as they would pay with their current debit or credit card.
Customers will simply tap and enter their current M-Pesa PIN and the payment is processed. The amount will automatically be deducted from your M-Pesa account and yes, you will receive an SMS notification.
Unfortunately, you will not be able to use the card for online payments as the card is neither VISA or MasterCard powered and there’s no chance of that happening any time soon.
Interestingly, Safaricom has a couple of accessories lined up together with the launch of the M-Pesa Card. There’s an NFC sticker that will probably be used on devices that do not support NFC and an NFC enabled wristband.
Looking at these accessories carefully, there’s a high chance that users with NFC enabled devices will be able to simply tap their devices on the POS system, be prompted to enter their PIN and everything is done.
Stringing along with the M-Pesa Card launch are rumours that Safaricom could be considering spinning off M-Pesa as a stand-alone payments service. The truth to this is unknown and it seems highly unlikely that the company would do this, seeing how they have been against breaking up M-Pesa.
Exciting news isn’t it? Can’t wait to try it out.