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Amazon to integrate M-Pesa payments; but for who?

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.

For who?

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.

  1. Perhaps even without significant numbers in terms of users who’ll pay with it, having M-Pesa as an option on Amazon.com will mean opening up M-Pesa to more users across the world? And maybe that’s Safaricom’s end goal: To be viewed as a worldwide accessible mobile money platform?
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

AliExpress

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.

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Dickson Otieno

I love reading emails when bored. I am joking. But do send them to editor@tech-ish.com.

15 Comments

  1. I buy alot from Amazon especially Kindle books. Mpesa will be convinient for most East Africans.
    Again with Amazon setting up another base in SA, mpesa option will be a cool idea

  2. The presence of many start up delivery company like KentexCargo, vitumob and the entry of DHL into direct online shopping delivery among others should tell you the number of people buying from Amazon and other online stores from Kenya is definitely huge. Some us and uk store have now enabled selection of KES when checking out. I’ve seen this first-hand having shopped from them.

  3. I am Kenyan and used to buy all my shoes here locally in Kenya. I’d buy at Bata and other stalls thereabouts in 2010 but off late I’ve been unable to find my shoe size and most of the quality of shoes in Kenya is grade E and expensive. Not to mention the world war 2 styles Bata has on their shelf. This prompted me to start buying abroad. I have bought from Amazon over 5 pairs ASOS Aliexpress and the price you pay plus shipping is close to what people pay here or may be just more by 1000. What has happened is shifting consumer taste and preference. An adidas original shoe at any local store starts at 5000 cheapest while you can buy two pairs abroad.

  4. Not important it will only increase the number of money scammers . We’ve lost a lot of money in cash 24h . Before mpesa signs deal with amazon it should investigate why mpesa allowed cash 24h scammers used its secur
    ities to steal people’s money in the name of working for amazon. And amazon should explain to the people why their security features are used in fake apps.

  5. What about DHL for shipping, safaricom we by ave done us agreat deal in payments…

  6. Part of the reason why some Kenyans aren’t shopping from Amazon, Alibaba and the likes is because they are not familiar with the payment methods. I think the partnership will help solve part if not the whole tussle!

    Good article though ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

  7. There’s a time I needed to purchase a product from amazon but I found it was very challenging coz of the buying process so I gave up. There after I sent them a request whether there was a way I could use Mpesa they refund me to use PayPal but I still found it tricky for a person who have not used it before. But I thank Safaricom for such negotiations hoping it will be fruitful

  8. I buy a lot from Amazon. Am actually surprised you’re asking who buys from Amazon.. most of my DIY tools, Security System, Dairy machines, Furniture accessories, books, shoes..I buy from Amazon.

  9. Times have changed, many Kenyans buy from Amazon mainly driven by ease of shipping by the likes of Kentex cargo, ImailKenya and Savostore. I have personally bought a good number of gadgets from Amazon.

    1. Great idea! It will be very useful. I have and still buy shoes and kitchen items on Amazon. I also know other people who do the same

      1. I tried it but I found they are referring me to pay pal. I think Mpesa it’s easier to pay with

  10. A decision like this is obviously based on data available to both Amazon and Safaricom. Data aside, a lot of Kenyans actually buy stuff from Amazon. I have a side hustle that depends on products i buy from Amazon (upto KES 320K of products bought between Jan and April this year), every time i go to pick my packages in Nairobi i always find many packages from Amazon. One third party shipping agent (same model like Kentex and Savostore) had to move from a small office in Eastleigh to a warehouse due to the high volumes of packages from US stores.

  11. You forget that Amazon kdp publishes books too. Some of us buy kindle books from Amazon and we don’t expect any shipments. Mpesa will help with payment of such books.

  12. Safaricom & Amazon should liase with a company like Rolling Cargo for the shipping since theyโ€™re across the globe and deal in end to end logistics.

  13. Your should put into consideration that there’s a company like Kentex cargo. Where with such an intergration you can pay for products via Mpesa on Amazon and they ship the product for you. At an affordable price

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