Safaricom has launched a new service that allows M-PESA customers to transfer money from their accounts to a I&M Bank’s Visa Pre-Paid card.The partnership between Safaricom and I&M Bank was signed at Safaricom headquarters today.
M-PESA users will now be able to transfer their M-PESA to the Visa PrePay Safari Card, which is a international Visa card co-branded with I&M Bank.The card named “M-PESA PrePay Safari Card” allows users to load the card via their M-Pesa accounts. You can then shop at supermarkets wordwide and also shop locally but am not sure if I will be able to shop online with the card. Clients will then be able to use the card to withdraw cash from over 1.7 million ATMs both locally and internationally.
Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore said, “The fact that individuals or businesses do not need to incur heavy capital expenditure setting up infrastructure to tap into the business opportunity introduced by M-PESA has been a major accelerator for growth. This development is key for us as it marks a linkage between M-PESA and the world’s biggest payment card network, further underlining the service’s growth from mobile money transfer to a veritable m-commerce solution.”
With the service, you will be able to monitor usage online and also get to prevent abuse through an online portal. There are over 28 Million Visa accepting merchants and 13.5 Million M-Pesa clients.
On the question of openning the M-Pesa’s API to local developers, Collymore say that the M-Pesa source code is owned by Vodafone and so it has been very hard to convince Vodafone to open the technology though Safaricom will still be trying to get Vodafone to accept the challenge and release a SDK or API soon.
I&M Bank CEO Arun Mathur say that this is an innovation which will benefit the unbanked even more since you dont need to have an account with the bank to enjoy the service. You only need to have an M-Pesa account and then you get to register. Initially you need to load Ksh 250 and you can then be loading the account with amounts ranging from Ksh 100 to 35,000
Over 400 organizations are now accepting bill payments via M-PESA through the PayBill functionality. I&M at the same time revealed that their e-commerce has seen over 70 establishments locally take up the service. But most of it is major establishments like Hotels, Airlines and others.
We might also see Safaricom maintain capped data rates for a long time since the company sees voice as an area where they will not have any more revenue to count on.
Robert Alai is a respected Kenyan blogger, technical evangelist, and social justice activist. Robert is known for his hard-hitting articles and opinions disseminated through his Twitter handle or Facebook page. he is the founder of KahawaTungu.