February 23, 2018 / 10:44 AM / 25 days ago

Google starts taking payments for apps via Kenya's M-Pesa service

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Google Play apps and games store has started accepting payments in Kenya through Safaricom’s mobile phone M-Pesa service to boost downloads in a market where many people do not have a credit card.

The Google logo is seen at the "Station F" start up campus in Paris, France, February 15, 2018. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

M-Pesa, which enables customers to transfer money and pay bills via mobile phone, has 27.8 million users in the nation of 45 million people where Google’s Android platform dominates. M-Pesa has been mimicked across Africa and in other markets.

“This is very important to the developer ecosystem in markets where credit card penetration is low,” said Mahir Sain, head of Africa Android partnerships at Google, which is owned by Alphabet Inc.

A man holds up his latest M-Pesa mobile money transaction for the photographer at an open air market in Kibera in Kenya's capital Nairobi December 31, 2014. REUTERS/Noor Khamis/File Photo

Safaricom has 13 million smart phones on its network, most of them using the Android platform. It partnered with London-based global payments platform provider, DOCOMO Digital, to enable users pay through M-Pesa, both firms said on Thursday.

Safariom started M-Pesa in 2007, offering money transfer services between users. It has grown to allow users to make payments for goods and services through thousands of merchants.

It also allows users to save, borrow and buy insurance, through partnerships with commercial banks.

Reporting by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Edmund Blair

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