- The Safaricom-Apple partnership will integrate the widely-used mobile money platform, M-Pesa, with Apple’s ecosystem.
- M-Pesa, the pioneer mobile money functionality, has proven crucial in Safaricom’s growth and reach.
- The prospective partnership could mean access to Apple’s vast technological resources and global market presence for Safaricom.
In a recent announcement during the US-Africa Business Roundtable in the United States, Kenya’s President William Ruto revealed that Safaricom, a leading telecommunications company, is establishing a strategic partnership with Apple Inc. The Safaricom-Apple partnership will integrate the widely-used mobile money platform, M-Pesa, with Apple’s ecosystem. This integration will expand M-Pesa’s mobile financial services globally.
President William Ruto announced the deal after he toured Silicon Valley in San Francisco Bay, United States, on 16 September. The Kenyan leader is fast gaining popularity across Africa and globally. He has led from the front in marketing Kenya as a conducive ground for foreign business to thrive.
The President used the business tour to highlight Kenya’s growing role in the global business landscape. Kenya has emerged as an African leader in e-mobility, with various electric vehicle companies establishing their businesses in the country. Additionally, Kenya has actively participated in climate action, focusing on green transformation and industrial decarbonization.
Moreover, Kenya is establishing itself as a strategic destination for technology and related services. The government is rolling out plans for a Kenya Digital Media City and an innovation known as the Silicon Savannah Appstore to showcase local innovations.
Safaricom and M-Pesa African reach hugely significant
Established on 6th March 2007 by Vodafone’s Kenyan subsidiary, Safaricom, M-PESA is Africa’s leading mobile money service operating across the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, and Tanzania.
President Ruto also lauded M-Pesa’s growing reach when announcing the Safaricom-Apple partnership. Kenya’s lead telecommunication outfit is now available in over nine African nations and has over 51 million subscribers, with Ethiopia’s latest market entry.
M-Pesa, the pioneer mobile money functionality, has proven crucial in Safaricom’s growth and reach. Since its launch in 2007, M-Pesa has transformed how people interact with their money. M-Pesa has shown continued growth under the rise of contactless payments to become Africa’s largest fintech platform.
President Ruto observed that the growth of M-Pesa was consequential in fostering connectivity after Safaricom recently unveiled a 5G internet network, making it the fastest in the continent.
“You will hear Sitoyo Lopokoiyit give his presentation on M-PESA, the mobile money innovation that has transformed payments, challenged traditional banking services, and innovatively solved transactional security issues,” the President noted.
“M-PESA is also Kenya’s confident announcement to the world that we are ready, able, and willing to play in the big tech league. Our mobile penetration is the highest on the continent, close to universal. 4G5G coverage is 96%, with major urban centres nationwide connected to 5G networks.”
Subsequently, the US Ambassador to Kenya, Meg Whitman, called M-PESA the most impressive technology. “It solved one of the biggest problems in mobile money: mobile, secure, locust payments…M-PESA is extraordinary. M-PESA alone demonstrates the brilliant business minds that work in Kenya that are devising African solutions to global problems,” Whitman said.
Kenya’s head of state also met Apple CEO Tim Cook, Google CFO Ruth Porat, Intel’s Pat Gelsinger, and executives from Levi Strauss, GAP, and Nike. He urged the big shots in the tech industry to invest in Kenya since the country has a conducive environment as Africa’s start-up hub.
“The reason for Kenya’s strong performance in attracting VC funding boils down to investor confidence: the knowledge that a start-up that succeeds in Kenya is highly likely to scale to the rest of Africa,” he said. “Venture capital flows to Kenya in large volumes because there is a conducive environment for innovators to test their products.”
Possible structures for the Safaricom-Apple partnership
The recent announcement has sparked interest and curiosity, as the Safaricom-Apple partnership details remain undisclosed. Nevertheless, speculations about the nature of this partnership range from potential integration between M-Pesa and Apple Pay to incorporating M-Pesa functionality in Apple’s App Store for transactions.
Apple Pay represents a digital payment solution from Apple Inc. that eliminates the need for cash and physical cards. Apple Pay lets people make contactless payments using their iPhone or Apple Watch. Mac and iPad owners can also make online orders and payments through the same technology.
President William Ruto also mentioned the collaboration between Safaricom’s M-Pesa and PayPal. The PayPal Mobile Money Service with M-PESA is a money transfer service for PayPal and M-PESA customers. The service is provided by TransferTo in partnership with Safaricom and PayPal. He indicated this successful collaboration would extend to Apple’s ecosystem, further enhancing M-Pesa’s global reach and usage.
Milestones Safaricom and Apple prospects
The prospective partnership could mean access to Apple’s vast technological resources and global market presence for Safaricom. For Apple, partnering with a telecommunication giant like Safaricom could offer a valuable foothold in the Kenyan and African market.
While details about the Safaricom-Apple partnerships remain hazy, this collaboration could lead to innovative product offerings and enhanced user experience. This includes potential access to Apple’s suite of products and services. This access could significantly improve the user experience for Safaricom’s customers.
M-PESA Managing Director, Mr. Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, said that over 70,000 developers have used the platform’s Open APIs. This has aided seamless machine-to-machine payment transfers. Moreover, M-PESA Global, a partnership with Visa, allows customers to transact in over 170 countries globally.