One of the top five most successful companies in the world, Google opened up payments on the Google Play Store beyond credit cards to mobile money transfers — namely, Kenya’s M-PESA.
M-PESA is a mobile phone-based money transfer, financing and microfinancing service, launched in 2007 by Vodafone for Safaricom and Vodacom, the largest mobile network operators in Kenya and Tanzania.
The payment option has been available to users since February and it makes Google Play one of the first among global e-commerce sites to adapt to mobile money.
M-PESA is used by over 27 million Kenyans, equivalent to more than two-thirds of the adult population; around 25 percent of the country’s gross national product flows through it.
“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.
The integration is powered by DOCOMO Digital, a global mobile commerce enabling platform.
Hiroyuki Sato, CEO of DOCOMO Digital, commented: “One of our biggest goals is to break down barriers and develop ways in which the 5 billion global adult population can engage with the digital ecosystem. M-PESA has long been an innovator and leader in the mobile money space, and we are very excited to partner with them to bring this service to market.
“First steps like this are absolutely essential on the journey to connecting consumers, merchants, operators and service providers together to create a fair and inclusive ecosystem for everybody.”
Although Kenyans have now been given an easier payment option to allow them to purchase apps on Play Store, Google still does not allow for registration of merchants from Kenya, which is essential if one wants to sell their apps on its platform.
So far Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa are the only African countries that can register as Google Play merchants, however anyone from any country in the world can register as a Google Play developer, but not all of us can get paid for the apps we develop.
Nevertheless, this is a great step in the right direction and we can only hope that as Zimbabwe addresses it’s cash limitations it’s mobile network providers can be empowered to also seek to secure partnerships with DOCOMO Digital to open up to new markets.