Safaricom has said it is in talks with Amazon.com on the use of M-Pesa on the e-commerce giant’s site. With no timeline given, and without details on how the integration will work, all we can do right now is speculate.
Amazon and Safaricom already signed a partnership in February 2020 where the Kenyan Telco became a reseller of Amazon Web Services (AWS) in the region. With the talks on integrating M-Pesa now happening, we could be seeing a deeper partnership being forged between the biggest e-commerce site in the western world, and the biggest telco in East Africa.
My first reaction to the integration of M-Pesa on Amazon.com was “Okay, they said this in 2019!” And quickly thereafter I asked myself, “But who’ll use it?“.
I don’t have an idea of how many Kenyans shop from Amazon.com. But I don’t think it’s that big of a number. This is because of a couple of reasons: Shipping fees, Import taxes, Delivery timelines, Delivery fees, Safety and assurance.
One time years ago when I wanted to buy a device from Amazon.com, I was shocked by the shipping fees I’d have to pay up, plus the long wait times. I understand nowadays there are numerous companies whose whole business is helping people shop and ship from the US. So perhaps, from such companies Safaricom has seen there’s an opportunity for M-Pesa payments.
Or maybe we’re looking at this whole thing the wrong way.
- Perhaps Amazon.com is planning on properly expanding personalised shopping services to Africa (East Africa especially) and Safaricom is already way ahead on the info.
- Or maybe one of the many Safaricom partnerships – think M-Pesa and VISA, or M-Pesa and RIA, or M-Pesa and Paypal – is the reason we could be seeing M-Pesa come to Amazon.com. Each of these partnerships has been aimed at making M-Pesa accessible internationally.
In March of 2019, Safaricom announced a partnership with the biggest e-commerce platform from the East allowing Kenyans to pay with M-Pesa when shopping from AliExpress. At that time, the company said they were chasing partnerships with more e-commerce platforms. It seems those efforts have borne fruits with this new announcement.
With the AliExpress partnership, integrating M-Pesa made it easier for many Kenyans interested in products from the platform easily make payments, and easily get refunds in the case of cancelled orders. The partnership however didn’t solve things like delivery, and other problems with shipping from China. But those were never Safaricom’s problem to solve.
Such is the case with the new partnership with Amazon.com. For Safaricom, M-Pesa being a payment option is a huge win for the brand, and of convenience to both Amazon who now stand to get more customers, and Kenyans who will want to buy from the platform without using Paypal or their own Cards. The issues with delivery and taxes will be dealt with by the respective parties once payments is streamlined.