In April of 2020, VISA announced they were entering into a partnership with Safaricom to build “products that will support digital payments for M-Pesa customers”. Two years later, the product is finally live and accessible, allowing millions of Kenyans to pay for goods and services on international platforms directly from their M-Pesa balances.
M-Pesa has today unveiled the long-awaited M-Pesa VISA Virtual card that makes it easy to use M-Pesa on global platforms. The virtual card is already accessible via the M-Pesa App. this will enable 30 million M-Pesa users to make cashless payments at Visa’s global network of more than 100 million merchants spread across 200 countries.
“Safaricom has changed how money moves in Kenya. We are pleased to be working together to build new and innovative payment products and services that will help merchants and customers in Sub-Saharan Africa overcome hurdles to global trade,” said Visa vice president and general manager for East Africa, Corine Mbiaketcha, during the launch of the new service.
For a long while now, many Kenyans have been asking for a solution for online payments that works directly with their M-Pesa wallets. Kenya is a world leader in mobile money adoption and use. For many Kenyans, M-Pesa has become the default means of payment and access to money. So it was prudent to find a way for the solution to be accepted globally. VISA solves that – since it’s a globally accepted payments provider.
A developing story from Techish states that The VISA card only maps your M-Pesa balance. It doesn’t store any money. It also has the same rules or limitations as your M-Pesa account. So, the maximum amount per transaction is KES 150,000 and the maximum amount per day is KES 300,000.
However, unlike M-Pesa payment options like Lipa na M-Pesa, there are no transaction fees per se. Instead, you will be charged a 3.5% forex fee markup (This is normal for bank cards when doing transactions in different currencies). Safaricom says you will get a breakdown of your transaction and charges after using the card on any platform.
With normal physical cards, you get a CVV number at the back of the card – which is needed to authenticate payments. This number is very important.
With the M-Pesa VISA Virtual card, there’s a dynamic CVV at the back of the card that changes every 30 minutes. This is to ensure security so that your card cannot be used easily. I believe this also ensures someone must know your M-Pesa PIN to make a transaction with your virtual card. This is because every time you want to make a payment with the card, you will need to launch the M-Pesa app, authenticate with PIN or biometrics, and to view the new CVV.
Safaricom says the dynamic CVV won’t affect repeat payments. For example with a Netflix subscription, you will want it to automatically charge your M-Pesa every month. If the CVV keeps changing, that may be affected. However, once you enable the “Repeat Payments” option in the app, your data will be kept and your card will still be charged every month.
How to use the M-Pesa VISA virtual card to make payments:
Well, like any other VISA card, when you’re making a payment online, you will choose the card option and enter your card number, and expiry date. You will then go to the M-Pesa app and check the always-changing three-digit CVV to complete the transaction.
Important things to note with the M-Pesa VISA Card:
Users can only have one virtual card. Even if you have multiple Safaricom SIM cards registered to your ID, you’ll only be allowed one card.
The card only works on international platforms. So you can’t use it on say Jumia Kenya, or other local commerce platforms.
From the app, you can set card limits. This is such that in case of repeat payments, once that ceiling is hit, the card will no longer transact.
However, you can use it on international platforms with a local presence including Netflix, Google Play Store, Apple’s App Store, etc. provided their checkout system accepts VISA cards.
The card expires after 3 years. However, in case you don’t use it, it automatically becomes inactive after 6 months.
Other Safaricom global partnerships include PayPal, AliExpress, and Western Union, which enable customers to receive and send money globally.