Kenya’s M-PESA, a widely-used mobile money platform with 51 million users, has partnered global digital payments giant, Visa, in a collaboration that will see M-PESA being introduced to physical debit cards, marking a departure from its previous virtual-only offerings.
Previously, M-PESA users were limited to virtual cards, such as the GlobalPay powered by Visa, which could only be used for online purchases. The new physical debit cards will extend M-PESA’s reach into the cash-centric retail sector, presenting a pivotal shift for the platform that has been a leader in Kenya’s digital payments landscape.
Credit and debit card usage is relatively low in Kenya, with only 6.35% of individuals over 15 possessing credit cards and 22% having debit cards. M-PESA, with its remarkable 97% market share, aims to address this gap by providing a tangible solution for everyday retail transactions.
The partnership with Visa not only allows M-PESA to diversify its services but also offers Visa a formidable entry point into Africa’s dynamic digital payments market. M-PESA’s extensive user base and deep integration into Kenyan daily life provides Visa with an opportunity to expand its influence across the continent.
The physical debit cards will be operational in the eight countries where M-PESA currently operates, offering customers a versatile payment option. This move will enable M-PESA to tackle use cases like subscription payments more comprehensively, an area where virtual cards may fall short due to reliability and vulnerability to fraud.
M-PESA has expressed its commitment to empowering fintechs and financial institutions through its card processing capabilities, providing end-to-end mobile and card payment solutions. The stage is set for a transformative shift in how Kenyans engage in financial transactions, with M-PESA leading the way into a new era of digital and physical payment integration.