Paying for stuff on the internet is a hustle in most developing nations. The way virtually all e-commerce platforms are designed, they accept credit/debit card as payments. Something that inconveniences consumers from Kenya, a country where neither debit nor credit card is popular.
That is because traditional banking system doesn’t work so well in Kenya. They are few and far in between; so much so that if you were to rely on bank systems for the transaction, you would be highly inconvenienced.
The Kenyan market had to become innovative and find a workaround the inconvenience of the traditional banking system, and thus came M-Pesa. A mobile wallet that allows consumers to send and receive payments as simple as receiving and sending an SMS. In Kenya, mobile money payment is readily available and very popular across the country.
So when the likes of Google and other international e-commerce platforms launch their services in the local market, the typical domestic consumer finds a clash when it comes to the payment system. For instance, Play Store requires consumers to buy via credit or debit card. Both of which are not popular, as most people use mobile money in Kenya.
Well, Google has seen the bottle-neck its services and products are facing in Kenya and has thus resolved to support M-Pesa Xpress payments. That means, consumers can now purchase apps, and books (I would have included music and videos, but these services are geo-restricted and not yet available in the country).
The service only works for mobile subscribers on the Safaricom network; if that is not yet obvious. Launch your Play Store app and then go to Account > Add Payment method. At this point, you should see add M-Pesa Xpress in addition to Add credit or debit card.
After setting up your M-Pesa Xpress account, you can go ahead to any app you want to purchase, tap on the price, and select M-Pesa Xpress option on check out. A screen will pop-up asking you to enter the PIN for your M-Pesa.
Both Google and Safaricom (M-Pesa) will send you a notification confirming the transaction. And in keeping with Safaricom, you will be charged the fee to facilitate the transfer of that amount from your M-Pesa wallet to the Play Store.
This feature is new and appears to be still in testing. So it is not yet available to everyone just yet. This step by Google to include M-Pesa option payment is a good sign for local developers hoping to score the merchant account.
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