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M-Pesa and Safaricom are not parting ways

Interim CEO M-Pesa Africa Sitoyo Lopokoiyit.
Interim CEO M-Pesa Africa Sitoyo Lopokoiyit.

Kenya’s Safaricom has waved away claims its mobile money offering M-Pesa is to break away from the company.

Speaking at The Africa Financial Industry Summit 2021, interim CEO M-Pesa Africa Sitoyo Lopokoiyit dismissed speculation that the company is looking to establish M-Pesa as an autonomous, single entity.

M-Pesa Africa is a new joint venture between Safaricom and Vodacom announced in April 2020.

While the venture has a separate agenda, the intention is not to create a new entity, Lopokoiyit asserted. “The intention is to accelerate M-Pesa across the continent and to be the largest Fintech product in Africa.”

He added: “COVID-19 has been an accelerator in digital payments. The economies are now building up, so we can help SMEs and Micro SMEs to build up.”

The company is also looking to launch M-Pesa in other markets in West Africa, but has not provided any further information.

The plan is to launch M-Pesa in multiple regions, depending on the product-market fit.

“The strategy before was different. We were looking to launch M-Pesa where we had a telco license,” said Lopokoiyit.

At the same time the industry is keeping a close eye on developments surrounding a new Bill, the Kenya Information and Communications (Amendment) Bill.

The legislation looks to force telecommunication companies with products classified as being outside the telecommunications industry, to form separate entities.

It is viewed as a fresh attempt to split Safaricom from the M-Pesa brand.

Super App status

Lopokoiyit said that the company is focused on increasing access to M-Pesa within the online payment space via APIs.

The intention is to increase the number of third party developers on the M-Pesa platform from 29 000 to over 100,000. It also wants to emerge as the main payment gateway through its transformation into a super app.

Lopokoiyit said that the plan to establish M-Pesa as a super app is ongoing and the objective is to feature several services including, deliveries, ride hailing, e-commerce and utility payments, on a single platform.

This will open up the market for innovators to reach out to M-Pesa’s 40 million customers.

M-Pesa is accessed and used in several countries in Africa, including DRC, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique and Tanzania.

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