Looks like mobile service providers in Kenya are keen to exploit every opportunity that may drive consumer’s favor in their direction; just weeks after Safaricom and CBA teamed up to introduce ‘M-Shwari’ – a mobile banking service that will see subscribers operate a savings account on their phone and access loans, Orange and PesaPal are now the latest companies to form an alliance for something you’d call revolutionary with caution as its still at its infancy. Sometimes back, Airtel introduced a similar service but focused mainly on global airtime top ups from friends and relatives abroad and in this case not with PesaPal but rather Ezetop. Ezetop is a globally known airtime top up service provider that’s utilized by several carriers such as Airtel across the world; it’s not clear whether this service ever picked up at all or if it’s still actively utilized by subscribers particularly in Kenya as official statistics have never been released.
PesaPal is an emerging e-commerce payment solutions provider that’s expected to gain a reasonable share of local financial services especially as more businesses continue to recognize the potential of online shopping in the coming days. By using the virtual airtime top up service, Orange subscribers can make purchases of airtime via PesaPal’s e-wallet, credit and debit cards (VISA and Master Card) solutions or through mobile money transfer service. Beyond its traditional airtime top up facility where subscribers buy scratch cards of equivalent airtime value, Mickael Ghossein the company CEO said the service will supplement its conventional airtime distribution channels with the convenience and benefits of online payments and electronic distribution. It’s a move that will bore an expanded airtime distribution network by leveraging on current e-commerce platforms especially for Orange’s data customers who may have their voice lines hooked to other service providers to top up directly from their respective mobile money accounts.
Let’s face it, there are pros and cons of each mobile service provider, you may prefer Orange’s data tariffs but Airtel’s calling rates appeal to you more, in this case, the convenience of buying scratch cards for Airtel voice service and Orange data bundles using Airtel money via PesaPal can’t be ignored. Mickael Ghossein said, “Our data customers that may have subscribed to other networks due to their voice offerings will now have the flexibility of purchasing data bundles directly from their mobile money accounts,” adding that this was informed by the fact that Kenya’s mobile telecoms market is characterized by multi-SIM users, with subscribers using different SIM cards from various networks for different services such as voice and data.
PesaPal CEO Agosta Liko also indicated Orange and PesaPal had a strategic partnership on the technical solution and distribution modes for Orange Airtime. The service is available at Orange Kenya’s website and PesaPal’s site.