Safaricom partners with Visa to provide virtual cards for global transactions

Kenya’s biggest telecommunications operator, Safaricom, has launched a virtual payment card with Visa Inc, offering the more than 30 million users of its M-Pesa payments system access to global e-commerce platforms.

The launch of the M-Pesa GlobalPay Visa virtual card follows a partnership between the two companies forged in 2020 to develop “products that will support digital payments for M-Pesa customers.”

M-Pesa, launched 15 years ago as one of the world’s first mobile phone-based money transfer services, has evolved to account for roughly half of Safaricom’s annual revenue. Through Visa’s digital processing network its users will now get access to more than 100 million merchants across 200 countries.

How the card works

The M-Pesa Global Pay Visa Virtual card will allow users to securely pay for goods and services on global sites straight from their mobile phones, without the need to open separate accounts.

Transactions will be billed at the prevailing foreign exchange rates on a daily basis, subject to the M-Pesa platform’s current limits in the local Kenyan currency.

M-Pesa has a single transaction limit of 150,000 shillings ($1,285) and a daily limit double that. Users will be able to use the virtual card while traveling abroad.

Transactions on the virtual card will be secured through the generation of a unique security code, akin to the one on the back of Visa’s plastic cards, which will be sent to the user’s mobile phone when they are paying. The users will be required to use their M-Pesa pins every time they generate the secure code from Visa, enhancing security.

M-Pesa started off as a simple money transfer service on mobile phones but is now used to pay for goods and services, save and borrow cash, as well as buy micro-insurance.

Other Safaricom global partnerships include with PayPal, AliExpress and Western Union, that enable customers to receive and send money globally.


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