Google has integrated M-Pesa as a form of payment into its app store making it easier for Kenyans to make purchases.
The payment option has been available to users since Monday and it makes Google Play one of the first among global e-commerce sites to adapt to mobile money.
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.”
With this partnership, M-Pesa will play a critical role in the app ecosystem,” said Mahir Sahin, head of Android partnerships in Africa for Google.
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 (NSE:SCOM) says that 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 the physical and virtual world.
In the latest such move, the company launched the M-Pesa 1Tap service which uses Near-Field-Communication (NFC) technology to make it easier and faster to complete payments.