M-Pesa, which enables customers to transfer money and pay bills via mobile phone, has 27.8 million users in the nation of 45 million people where Google’s Android platform dominates. M-Pesa has been mimicked across Africa and in other markets.
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 barrier for Kenyans looking to buy goods and services from international e-commerce firms that only accept card payments.
While only about six per cent of applications on the Google Play store are paid apps, the integration of M-Pesa is a key milestone.
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, which necessary if you want to sell on its platform.
Safaricom has 13 million smart phones on its network, most of them using the Android platform.
Safariom started M-Pesa in 2007, offering money transfer services between users. It has grown to allow users to make payments for goods and services through thousands of merchants.
It also allows users to save, borrow and buy insurance, through partnerships with commercial banks.