Technology: Purchase Your Apps On Google Through M-Pesa


You ever been shopping online and when you wanted to check out you were asked for your card details? Yea, you and every other Kenyan who has been on an international online shopping site. I have my credit cards, but I’m not at the point where I can trust the internet with my details. A lot of Kenyans do not have credit cards, and for those who do, many people share in my wary sentiments. Unfortunately, we’re either forced to share our credit card details with the internet, or we have to restrain from online shopping and keep to our cocoons. Safaricom has come to relieve us from the burden. Safaricom entered into a partnership with Google and from that, we can now purchase apps on Google Play Store through Safaricom’s money transfer platform, M-Pesa.

Safaricom is known for always being innovative with turnkey functionalities such as M-Pesa One Tap and myriad others. However, when global companies start recognizing the uniqueness of our market, that’s a whole new ballgame. Google is not the first globally known company to interact with Safaricom to customize the products for the region’s use. Companies such as Uber have also submitted to the will of Kenya and incorporated M-Pesa as a payment option on their platform.

While many Kenyan’s do not have access to credit cards, and those who do have reservations on how to use them, we have come to familiarize ourselves and love mobile money transfer. This partnership will open up the Kenyan market to Google and it can only be expected other multinational companies will follow suit. However, it’s worthwhile to mention only six percent of the applications on Google Play Store are sold, the rest can be easily and freely be accessed.

While speaking on the matter, Mahir Sahin, who is the head of Android partnerships in Africa for Google, said that carrier billing is key to ecosystems where credit card adoption is low. He went ahead to site that the partnership will play a strategic role in expanding Google Play Store’s clasp in the country, with over 28.7 million Kenyan’s registered under M-Pesa.

M-Pesa interphase.

You will need to manually add M-Pesa as a payment option as it doesn’t appear automatically. Here’s a guide on how to do that.

  1. Open the Google Play Store App on your Phone and go to the Account tab.
  2. Select the tab ‘Payment methods’ which will redirect to the various options you can use to pay for apps on the platform.
  3. Select M-Pesa Xpress which will be one of the options available with your mobile number next to it.

Once you have confirmed the option, you can head to the application you want to purchase and tap on the price tag. After that, you just have to enter your M-Pesa pin on the pop-up window and you’re good to go. Normal transaction charges will apply. It’s also key to note the functionality is not available for all devices and though there is no official word on the subject, I’m certain they’re working to fix it.

While it is remarkable that Google has customized the service to suit Kenyans, it’s also worth mentioning that from the region, you are still unable to open a merchant’s account. Merchant accounts are important for developers who would wish to sell their apps on the platform. It is our hope that they shall address that the matter as well.

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