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Flutterwave joins e-commerce, M-Pesa is linking to Visa


The market for Safaricom’s M-Pesa payment system seems never to ease. After its introduction in Kenya in 2007, the Fintech app has accounted for more than 70% of the mobile money business in that region. In March, when COVID-19 reached the East African nation of 53 million, the Kenyan Central Bank switched to M-Pesa as a public health instrument to minimize the usage of currency.

And last month, one of the major financial services giants — Visa — connected M-Pesa to its global network.

Visa and Safaricom — Kenya’s leading telecommunications firm and M-Pesa operator — announced a payment and development alliance.

The deal would connect M-Pesa’s own comprehensive financial services network in East Africa to Visa’s regional retailer and payment network spanning 200 nations.

The firms will also work on the production of goods to enable digital payments for M-Pesa users. The collaboration is also subject to regulatory approval.

Information remain unclear, but payment companies have already said that they would use the agreement to promote e-commerce.

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On a continent already home to the biggest share of the world’s unbanked people, Kenya has one of the fastest levels of mobile currency penetration in the world. This is primarily due to the domination of M-Pesa in the region, with 24.5 million customers and a network of 176,000 agents.

Visa has become part of a Fund and collaboration with African fintech firms. The global financial services firm has established partnering with the continent’s payments startups as the center of its Africa growth plan.

One of those fintech companies that Visa has partnered up with, Flutterwave, introduced an e-commerce app in April. The San Francisco and Lagos-based B2B payments firm unveiled the Flutterwave Shop, a platform for African retailers to build automated retail shops.


The company is fewer Amazon and more eBay — no inventory or storage criteria. Flutterwave maintains that the move will not mark a step away from its core payment company.

The organization expanded the creation of the Flutterwave Store in reaction to COVID-19, which imposed regulatory policies for small and medium-sized businesses and merchants working in Africa’s largest economies.

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Users will view inventory and connect up to a payment method after building a profile. For pick-up and distribution, Flutterwave Store operates via established third party logistics companies such as Sendy in Kenya and Sendbox in Nigeria.

The service will launch in 15 African countries and the only Flutterwave fees (for now) will be charged. Otherwise, it is easy for small and medium-sized businesses to set up an online marketplace and for buyers and sellers to share merchandise.

Although the campaign originated from the outbreak of coronavirus cases in Africa, it should persist past the pandemic. Yet Flutterwave CEO Olugbenga Agboola — aka GB — is confident that the Flutterwave Store is not a platform for the fintech business sponsored by Y-Cominator.

“It’s not a shift of course. We’re only a payment processing business in B2B. We’re not trying to become an online seller, so we’re not aiming to become a Jumia, “TechiCovery added.

In the early start-up stages, a fairly young company — Okra — has built a innovative model that enables it to produce sales from both sides of the fintech aisle.

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Created in June 2019 by the Nigerians Fara Ashiru Jituboh and David Peterside, the organization refers to itself as a “super-connector API” with a portal connecting bank accounts to third party applications.

Okra’s customers include Fintech start-ups and major financial organizations in Nigeria. The business attracted the interest of TLcom Capital — a $71 million African-focused VC firm — which supported Okra with $1 million in pre-seed financing. Nigerian start-up is using the funds to recruit and grow to new markets in Africa, most possibly Kenya.

Ayeni Sylvester
the authorAyeni Sylvester

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