Safaricom, the mobile network operator behind M-Pesa has released an Application Programming Interface (API) for all developers who want to create solutions tied directly into their payment systems.
M-Pesa is Kenya’s largest mobile money service and world’s most successful to date. About 43 percent of Kenya’s GDP flows through the service and close to 70% of Kenya’s adult population has an account for the service.
Safaricom’s website reads:
“The new M-PESA platform dubbed G2 (for M-PESA 2nd generation platform) offers versatile integration capabilities that our development partners can take advantage of, to create excellent M-PESA journeys across the different industries they serve.”
Apart from enabling Kenyans send and receive money fast through simple feature phones, the service also makes it possible for its users to pay bills and shop. M-pesa has also partnered with banks to offer its customers loans.
In April 2015, Safaricom moved M-Pesa’s servers to Kenya, which it declared will help improve services to customers.
While announcing the API launch in Nairobi Kenya, Betty Mwangi, Safaricom’s director of financial services explained that this step has been made possible by the company’s decision to transfer its servers from Germany to be hosted locally.
“One of the advantages of the new M-PESA platform is the fact that it is easier to integrate with other financial platforms to offer more or improved services to our customers […]. We do, however, accept that innovation cannot come from us alone - it takes partnerships to come up with some of the best possible solutions that will help transform lives.”
M-pesa, despite its enormous market size, has in the recent months experienced concerted efforts from competitors such as Airtel Money and Orange Money to cut its market slice. The move to open the service to third party developers could give it an advantage of harnessing innovations from a wider pool.