Many M-PESA users have been wishing Safaricom would launch a virtual debit card for international online payments. This is a big issue because M-PESA has millions of users in the country, meaning a lot of people use the product for many functions: sending and receiving cash, accessing overdrafts (Fuliza), accessing loans and savings (KCB M-PESA and M-Shwari), paybill and other bill payments options, to mention a few. It has also become obvious that M-PESA is part of Kenya’s financial system by sheer numbers and the amounts it transacts.
The issue of virtual debit cards can also be associated with online products and services Kenyans pay for. While products such as music streaming service Spotify can be paid for using M-PESA directly, others such as Netflix have not gotten there yet, meaning customers are forced to use cards associated with their banks. This introduces some friction, especially for folks who do not want to do that for security reasons or any other concern.
Some local products have had the virtual debit card feature, but not for long. A good example is Tingg, which has since eliminated it from its service offering. This means that some people are forced to use global payment gateways to receive cash, including the likes of PayPal, which has been faulted for ‘illegally’ holding customer money for very extended periods without any reasonable explanations.
At the reveal of Safaricom’s FY 2022 results (ended March 30), CEO Peter Ndegwa has announced that the operator will launch M-PESA GlobalPay powered by Visa Virtual Cards for international online payments.
The card should be here before the end of June 2022.
“With support from our regional regulators and partners, we are working together to deliver innovative products in a new year such as Visa Virtual Card by M-PESA GlobalPay to support international online payments,” says CEO Peter Ndegwa.
M-PESA has since celebrated 15 years since it was launched. It has crossed 30 million customer mark, and its super app, the MPESA App has been downloaded more than 5.3 million times. The app has more than 1 million active customers. On the other hand, the M-PESA Business App has been downloaded more than 462K.
The carrier has 11 million active Lipa Na M-PESA customers. It also boasts of a network of over 3.2 million businesses that accept M-PESA payments.