Plastic card payment companies are relying on Kenyans’ preference for mobile phone based transactions to garner more customers.
Visa, the largest provider of payment card networks in the world, is also taking up a mobile payments pilot project in Rwanda with the idea of starting the service in Kenya by March.
MasterCard’s Sub Saharan African division president, Daniel Monehin, said that the MasterCard MPOS solution will allow Kenyan retailers who had previously operated on cash-only basis to use mobile phones as point-of-sale (POS) terminals and accept electronic payments.
Introduction of the technology will make it easier for small traders to accept cashless payment through mobile phones, which removes the need to lay expensive internet infrastructure in remote areas.
MasterCard’s pilot project, which was first announced in mid-January, will be used at select merchant retail outlets before being rolled out throughout the country.
Jabu Basopo, Visa’s country manager for sub-Saharan Africa, said that the new technology would reach the roadside seller. Visa was working with Fundamo, a mobile financial services provider that it had bought out.
Mr. Basopo said that they wanted to perfect it and once they were satisfied with the product they would move forward, with Kenya as one of the focus markets. The aim would be to make easy the use of cards.
MasterCard and Equity have entered into a partnership with an Indian mobile-based payment services technology firm.
Ezetap’s chief executive Abhijit Bose said that MPOS had the potency to transform payments in emerging markets. But, their experience in other markets had revealed that technology was only half the battle.
He also said that to be completely successful, a strong set of partners was needed who would really understand the needs and concerns of the local merchants and consumers.
The area of mobile money had a big growth potential with many companies exploring ways to tap into people’s mobile wallets.