M-Pesa upgrade that’s changing how businesses transact



  • A recent upgrade on M-PESA for Business has enabled more functions and business people who have got the hang of these enhancements are now calling it the “new normal”.

You receive payment from a customer via your Lipa Na M-PESA “Buy Goods” till number and withdraw it at an M-PESA agent moments later. Alternatively, you opt to directly send the money from the till to someone else’s M-PESA number the same way you would do from your regular M-PESA wallet.

Or do you wish to use the money in your till to pay utility bills instead? That’s also possible. You can do so directly via “Paybill”.

Sounding different, right? Well, it doesn’t end there.

You may further use the money in your business till to buy goods from another business and pay directly from your till to theirs. And by the way, you can also use the till to sell Safaricom airtime and get a commission. Still, you can make direct transfers from the till to your bank account.

Previously, it would not be possible to deliver these functions directly from the business till. A recent upgrade on M-PESA for Business has opened the way and business people who have got the hang of these enhancements are now calling it the “new normal”.

Those who have experienced the Lipa Na M-PESA “new normal” are also using the recently unveiled “M-PESA for Business App”, which incorporates the additional functions seamlessly. The app is available on  Google Play Store and App Store.

A few Saturdays ago, we found an elderly trader in downtown Nairobi trying to convince his protégé to see sense in running her business with M-PESA.

“I am in the ‘analogue’ generation while you are more ‘digital’. I wonder why you are yet to embrace this service that will minimise your handling of cash and enable you to carry out most of your transactions in a cashless manner,” the trader could be heard saying. The young apprentice promised to give it a try.

Simply put, the following are the four things a business owner can do with the new M-PESA for Business interface:

1. Receive payments from other businesses and customers.

2. Make payments to (a) another business using “Paybill” or “Buy Goods” options, or (b) to someone else’s number.

3. Withdraw funds: (a) to the number that the businessperson nominated when registering; or (b) to a bank account, or (c) at an M-PESA agent.

4. Sell Safaricom airtime and earn five percent commission.

Even without the app, the enhanced features can be activated by dialling *234#, then selecting option 2. This will only work from the Safaricom number nominated at the point of till registration. You can visit this dedicated site for more details.

Sampling responses by businesspeople who have used the service, we came across these quotes:

“In a world where technology is increasingly becoming the ‘new normal’, businesses have to think hard and think smart if they are to grow and remain profitable. M-PESA for Business is a great starting point.” - City-based SME manager.

“I can’t help but marvel at this concept that allows us to pay suppliers conveniently, receive payments swiftly, pay salaries, check statements from anywhere, and make an extra dime through selling airtime. All this from funds collected on a single till number. It is definitely more rewarding to do business with M-PESA.” - Retail chain owner.