Consumers in Kenya and Tanzania can now use M-Pesa to pay for a range of online goods and services including airline tickets, says Robin Philip, marketing director for South African payment services provider PayGate.
“There is very little e-commerce activity in many African countries,” says PayGate Philip. “But that’s not because people don’t want to be able to buy online – they just haven’t been given the right payment options.”
Philip believes enabling customers to pay online merchants using M-Pesa will make their lives more convenient, as well as giving the merchants access to a much bigger market.
“Imagine a customer who wants to buy computer equipment or vouchers online,” says Philip. “If the merchant has enabled M-Pesa, the customer can choose that as a payment option when they go to check out. We give them the merchant’s M-Pesa account information, they make the payment using their phone, we process it and tell the merchant so they can complete the transaction.”
“M-Pesa is already a mature product in Kenya and is taking off very fast in Tanzania,” says Philip. “With our growing presence in the region, for us it has been a logical step to offer it as an e-commerce payment method. It’s a very appropriate solution for local conditions.”
Tanzanian airline FastJet is among the first to offer M-Pesa payments for online bookings.
Philip says PayGate is concentrating on providing diverse payment methods to suit local conditions. “Different countries have their own favourite ways to pay,” he says. “We don’t believe that should hinder consumers from having access to the services they want online. If any merchant knows about a payment method their customers love but we don’t offer, we’d love to hear about it.”