Safaricom’s Mpesa Becoming the” iPhone” of the World
When we talk about outstanding unicorns in Kenya, our minds quickly race to think about Safaricom. The telecom service provider is as synonymous with all of us as with its green color which has made it to our color charts; Safaricom green.
The most striking characteristic of Safaricom is that it has been around for about 2 decades only yet its impact on our lives is quite extraordinary. I remember the telecoms’ late CEO Bob Collymore describing the firm as just but a teenager.
In the social cycles, being a teenager is the most exciting stage. It is the time when someone starts making a life for themselves. At this teenage stage, the person’s potential begins to be unveiled. It thus means that we are yet to see the full potential of Safaricom.
Perhaps, M-PESA is the most outstanding product by Safaricom. Besides being a great product without which life, as we know it today, could be tough, it is among the biggest revenue generators for the firm. In the year 2021, Mpesa alone generated a whopping 82.56 billion shillings for Safaricom.
And then about a month ago, M-PESA partnered with Visa to provide a Globalpay visa virtual card to enable the usage of M-PESA anywhere across the world. It could not get any better than the direction this whole innovation is taking. To begin with, the rollout is targeted to begin here in Kenya and then into Tanzania, D R Congo, Ghana, Mozambique, and Lesotho where M-PESA already has a presence.
Long before Safaricom exits the youthful stage at 35, I am hopeful that I will walk into a hotel in Kazakhstan or Sicily and use my M-PESA Globalpay visa card to pay for the food and any other services just like that.
The rise of Safaricom and M-PESA is akin to Apple’s iPhone business which has grown greatly in less than two decades now. The iPhone’s launch on 29th June 2007 changed how we envisioned what a smartphone should look like.
Today, iPhone is the ultimate gadget of choice. With an iPhone smartphone in your hand, how you interact with social media, interact with other people, and do simple tasks like taking a photo changes a great deal.
The iPhone business alone is incomparable to some of the bigger businesses we know such as Coca-Cola or GM in terms of sales.
By 2021, iPhone generated USD 191.97 billion in sales compared to Microsoft’s USD 168.09, Verizon’s USD 133.61 billion, General Motor’s USD 127.00 billion, and JP Morgan’s USD 121.65 billion. That tells you the importance of the iPhone in Apple’s business.
The striking fact is that some of these big companies have been around for over 5 decades yet the growth of the iPhone alters everything we have known about business growth and development. 15 years down the line and iPhone has taken over the world.
The same story, albeit, on a smaller scale repeats itself locally with Safaricom. Not only in terms of revenue has M-PESA changed the fortunes of many, but also how we interact with others, and how we shop and pay for products as well as services. Our convenience in terms of money transfer cannot be overemphasized.
Besides the product itself, M-PESA has employed over half a million agents across the region where it operates. And that is in terms of agents alone without considering those directly employed by the firm itself and the parent companies Safaricom and Vodafone.
The M-PESA foundation on the other hand has had a great social impact in terms of partnering and scaling up high impactful social projects in Kenya. As a social enterprise, the foundation has done a lot in the academic arena, health, philanthropy, and environmental conservation.
In a few years to come, M-PESA will be a global brand. We could argue that yes, Mpesa is already global at this stage, but then it is yet to be in the remotest parts of this globe. With the visa partnership, tomorrow looks even brighter.