M-PESA BANK?

Is M-Pesa transforming into a bank?

The telco yesterday launched its M-PESA Super App which is set to ease accesing the services offered

In Summary

• The telecommunication firm has continued to invest a lot in M-PESA, which could see Kenyans access almost all financial services from a tap from their phone.

• The telco yesterday launched its M-PESA Super App which is set to ease accessing the services offered, as you can now access them all on the app.

Safaricom's  M-Pesa platform is transforming into a giant one stop financial provider, set to disrupt the traditional brick and mortar banking and financial services.

It is also securing its future operations without solely relying on Safaricom customers but instead opening its services to other platforms and telcos.

The question is, is M-Pesa slowly transforming into a bank?

Yesterday, it unveiled its M-Pesa Super App which it said will ease access to financial services such as banking and insurance right on your phone. 

The app will allow users renew licences, manage and pay their bills, interact with suppliers among  other services.

It will be embedded with mini-Apps which will enable customers and businesses complete day-to-day and occasional tasks within the M-PESA Super App and M-PESA for Business App, the Safaricom app will also be a mini app.

According to Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, MD M-Pesa Africa and Chief Financial Services Officer at Safaricom, the telco invests about Sh2-4billion annually on the mobile money service to ensure it continues growing into a global industry leader.

With more than 22.6 million active customers locally, M-Pesa has continued to be transformed to be a platform where you can access insurance, pension, booking services among others.

“We have designed the M-Pesa Super App to enhance our customers’ experience every time they use the service,” said Peter Ndegwa, CEO - Safaricom.

According to Lopokoiyit, the reason for developing the super app is because  M-Pesa is growing beyond borders and may not just be a reserve for Safaricom customers.

“The idea for M-Pesa is to go global and even become network agnostic hence the separation of the M-Pesa and Safaricom apps,”said Lopokoiyit.

Being network agnostic means having no ties or preferences for specific mobile networks or providers.

This means in the future you might be able to use M-Pesa anywhere in the world using any data source.

He said the app has been developed in a way when tourists come to Kenya and their devices go into roaming mode they can now connect their VISA cards to the app and be able to transact on the platform.

According to the results for the year ended March 31, 2021, M-Pesa revenue was Sh82.6 billion surpassing voice earnings which were at Sh82.55 billion. 

The results brought back talks of a split between Safaricom and Mpesa which has been pushed for  through the Kenya Information and Communications (Amendment) Bill sponsored by Gem MP Elisha Odhiambo.

Safaricom CEO however says the firm is opposed to the Bill with intentions to continue operating  as a combined business.

MPs have been pushing for the delinking of mobile money services from telecommunication firms and their registration as separate commercial banks. 

M-Pesa continues to dominate the mobile money service with a market share of 98.9 per cent in Kenya.

Currently it is the largest payments platform on the African continent, with about 40 million users, processing over a billion transactions every month.

It is operational in Kenya, Tanzania, Lesotho, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Mozambique and Egypt with continued expansion.

The firm is set to launch in the  Ethiopian market after a successful bid, a move that will extend M-Pesa growth in the continent. 

Chief Executive Officer, Peter Ndegwa during the Safaricom MPESA SuperApp launch with Offline mode and mini Apps
Chief Executive Officer, Peter Ndegwa during the Safaricom MPESA SuperApp launch with Offline mode and mini Apps
Image: HANDOUT