Mobile money transfer platform M-Pesa has crossed 30 million users in Kenya as traders accepting payments through Lipa na M-Pesa doubled, cementing Safaricom's dominance in digital transactions in the country.
The giant telco's chief executive Peter Ndegwa announced Thursday that Kenya accounted for more than 30 million of the platform’s 51 million customers across the region.
Mr Ndegwa also said businesses operating Lipa na M-Pesa Till numbers have doubled from 173,000 in April 2020 to more than 387,000.
“The growth in M-Pesa customer usage has been driven by the launch of various innovations over the years including financial services such as M-Shwari, KCB M-Pesa and Fuliza," Mr Ndegwa said.
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) plans to launch a national payment system that will force Safaricom to accept cash from rival firms such as Airtel on its Lipa na M-Pesa platform, enabling a seamless transfer of money through merchants.
The new system, to be introduced by 2024, will remove the hurdle where Airtel subscribers, for example, cannot pay for goods and services through Safaricom’s till and pay-bill numbers.
Safaricom has equally established both local and global partnerships that enable customers to send and receive money, and to make payments across the world including with PayPal, AliExpress and Western Union.
Kenya has a population of about 50 million which means nearly the entire adult population operates on Safaricom’s mobile money platform M-Pesa.
This shows the growing significance of the telcos in Kenya’s payment system as well as the risk the company carries in terms of financial stability in case of time outs.
M-Pesa is operated by Safaricom in Kenya and South Africa’s Vodacom, which runs the services through its subsidiaries in Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Lesotho, Ghana and Egypt.
Safaricom and Vodacom acquired the M-Pesa brand and platform from their UK parent firm Vodafone Plc to form the joint venture, M-Pesa Africa, in April 2020.
Last year, Safaricom launched M-Pesa Super app that enables users to request payments, send money, pay bills and transact seamlessly across the borders.
Customers on the app can also send money to multiple users of the mobile service, pay for insurance and buy tickets for buses, trains and concerts.
The mobile transfer platform has powered Safaricom’s earnings in recent years.
The growth underlines recent moves by the banking regulator to govern the payment platform while pushing for lower costs and interoperability.