Safaricom’s M-Pesa and Visa offer virtual card for global transactions

An artist works on a mural advocating cashless payments by M-Pesa mobile phone in Nairobi, Kenya, April 19, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

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NANYUKI, Kenya, June 2 (Reuters) – M-Pesa, the African mobile money transfer service owned by Kenya’s Safaricom Plc (SCOM.NR) and Visa Inc (VN) launched a virtual payment card on Thursday as part of a bid to capture part of the continent’s $40 billion-a-year subscription market.

The M-Pesa Global Pay Visa virtual card will allow users to securely pay 100 million foreign merchants like Amazon and Alibaba from their mobile phones, without the need for credit cards or accounts with processors such as PayPal.

The virtual card is also aimed at Africa’s rapidly growing subscription markets for services such as Netflix (NFLX.O) and Spotify (SPOT.N), M-Pesa Africa Managing Director Sitoyo Lopokoiyit said.

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The virtual card is initially available to over 30 million M-Pesa users in Kenya and will be rolled out to Tanzania, where trials are underway, Mozambique, Congo, Lesotho and Ghana by April 2023. said Lopokoiyit.

M-Pesa was launched 15 years ago as a simple money transfer service and now accounts for around half of Safaricom’s revenue as consumers use it for shopping, saving, borrowing and insurance. Safaricom is partly owned by the South African group Vodacom (VODJ.J).

“Many M-Pesa customers today don’t have a bank account…it’s (the virtual card) an enabler for e-commerce and digital payments,” said Alex McCrea, head of Visa.

Transactions will be subject to M-Pesa platform limits in local Kenyan currency of 150,000 shillings ($1,285) for a single transaction and a daily limit of double that. Users will be able to use the virtual card while traveling abroad.

Transactions on the virtual card will be secured with a unique security code sent to the user’s mobile phone and the user’s M-Pesa personal identification number.

($1 = 116.7500 Kenyan shillings)

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Reporting by Duncan Miriri; Editing by David Holmes and Cynthia Osterman

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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