Safaricom takes M-pesa to China with Alipay partnership

Safaricom, owners of Africa’s first mobile money platform, M-Pesa recently signed an online payment agreement with an affiliate of Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce company, Ant Financial. This agreement which is part of Ant Financial’s global expansion plan will enable Kenyans to use M-Pesa payments on Aliexpress.com. This comes almost a year after Alipay founder, Jack Ma hinted that Alipay was looking for a partner to do business with in the country.

This deal offers Kenyans an additional payment options without having to think about the security of the payment option.

“The move especially targets microtraders in the country who source goods and other supplies from manufacturers in China,” Safaricom said in a statement.

With this deal, Ant Financial, which runs the portal payment services of Aliexpress.com will offer M-Pesa as one of the payment options with transactions denominated in Kenyan shillings. AliExpress customers selecting M-PESA as a payment channel will have their total cost displayed in Kenya Shillings with standard Lipa Na M-PESA Paybill charges applicable for each transaction.

“We believe that the mobile phone has the ability to pull down some barriers to trade by enabling global e-commerce, and this partnership with Ant Financial Services marks yet another important milestone not just in Safaricom’s efforts to take M-Pesa beyond Kenya, but to Kenya’s participation in the international e-commerce marketplace,” said Ms Sylvia Mulinge, the chief customer officer.

Ant Financial had last year said it was prioritising partnerships with mobile wallet providers in emerging markets in its bid to capture a slice of the sector in areas with potential for faster growth. This is due to the strong belief that mobile wallet applications would be the “next big trend” in a number of countries across Africa.  

Emboldened by a collaboration it entered into with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the International Financial Corporation (IFC) to promote digital financial inclusion in Africa, Ant Financial will continue to expand in Africa.