Giant search company, Google has integrated M-Pesa as a form of payment into the Google play store making it easier for Kenyans to buy apps and tokens on the platform.The MPESA payment option has been available to users since Monday and is a significant step as this marks the acceptance of mobile money as a payment platform on global e-commerce sites.Previously, customers could only pay using credit cards, which are inaccessible to most Kenyans.
“Carrier billing is very important to the developer ecosystem in markets where credit card is very low,” said Mahir Sahin, head of Android partnerships in Africa for Google” With this partnership, M-Pesa will play a critical role in the app ecosystem,”
Normal M-Pesa PayBill transaction fees will apply on the payment option that was integrated into Google Play by DOCOMO Digital, a firm that is owned by Japan’s largest mobile operator.
Lack of payment options has remained one of the major barriers for Kenyans looking to buy goods and services from international e-commerce firms that only accept card payments. Although only about six percent of applications on the Google Play store are paid apps, the integration of M-Pesa is a key milestone that heralds the dawn of mobile money on the internet.
However, while Kenyans are now able to make purchases through M-Pesa, there remains a gap for locals that want to sell their applications on the platform. Google does not allow for registration of merchant accounts from Kenya, locking out app developers from the country.
According to Safaricom, integrating M-Pesa into Google Play is part of its larger objectives to evolve the service well-beyond the foundational money transfer offering. Over the last few years, Safaricom has tried to make it easier for Kenyans to use M-Pesa for payments in both the physical and virtual world.
This is evidenced by the recent launch of the M-Pesa 1Tap service which uses Near-Field-Communication (NFC) technology to make it easier and faster to complete on-point payments.