Safaricom to launch Lipa na M-Pesa payment card stepping deeper into the banking territory
Kenya’s largest telcos Safaricom is set to launch a Lipa na M-Pesa card later this year. The card will be linked to users’ M-Pesa platforms allowing customers to make payments using ‘tap and go’ technology.
Trials for the card kicked off last year where selected participants (university students and staff) were allowed to use the card to make payments at select merchants. Students and staff at USIU, Catholic University of East Africa, KU, and MKU took part in the pilot.
Safaricom says that the feedback from the pilot determines areas that call for improvements as preparations for the official launch in 2017 continue.
The Lipa na M-Pesa card uses Pin and chip technology. It also comes with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to ensure that devices close to each other can exchange information via radio communication. Basically, this technology makes payments effective by increasing the speed of communication between devices.
How will the card work?
Simply, the amount will be deducted from user’s M-Pesa accounts and once payments are processed, an SMS notification will be sent.
The card is part of Safaricom’s efforts to strengthen its mobile payment systems even as rumors of separating M-Pesa from Safaricom resurface.
The only sad thing about this card is that you will not be able to use it to make online payments. The sadder thing is that chances that this will happen soon are slim but when that happens, a connection to visa and MasterCard would be a good idea also.
Safaricom is not the first telcos in this niche, the Airtel money card with an emphasis on online payments has been here for a minute.
Safaricom takes on Banks
Banks have dominated the card payment system for quite some time but it seems that they have a new threat. Safaricom’s entry in this sector may spell doom for most local banks especially those fighting to stay afloat since the 14% interest cap was signed into law last year.
There seems to be stiff competition in the electronic transactions sector. And good money too. Earlier, most banks depended on M-Pesa to transfer money from one bank to another via mobile but now most have adapted their mobile money transfer platform. A good example is Pesa Link, an inter-bank mobile transfer service that allows money transfer between banks via mobile.
Safaricom has slowly been stepping into the banking sector territory over time. All this started after the introduction of M-Pesa which allows people to send and receive money via their mobile phones. Next came the Mshwari platform which allows the customer to save money and borrow at a reasonable interest rate. And now a Lipa na M-Pesa card are set to be launched.
Since its introduction 10 years ago, Safaricom has brought with it good tidings. It has revolutionized how Kenyans make payments and it continues to enhance its platforms. Additions such as Hakikisha and M-Shwari have definitely introduced us to a better and efficient way of doing things.
There has been a notable shift in consumer trends which have, in turn, allowed services such as Lipa na M-Pesa to thrive. This shift has also confirmed that cashless means of paying for goods and services are likely to do well especially coming from a company that already brags a high subscription rate.
Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore was quoted saying that the company continues to test the boundaries of services even as M-Pesa continues to grow. Collymore said that the company continues to improve the M-Pesa platform so as to extend gains to an increasing number of customers.