Safaricom #ticker:SCOM said on Tuesday it had secured a deal to use its M-Pesa mobile payment service for online shopping on the Aliexpress.com site, run by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group.
M-Pesa was launched more than a decade ago to offer Kenyans without bank accounts a network to transfer cash via mobile phone.
It now offers a range of payment services, loans and savings to more than 21 million people in Kenya and has been copied abroad.
Aliexpress.com is an online shopping portal for businesses and retail customers.
Under the deal, Ant Financial, an affiliate of Alibaba that runs the portal’s payment services, will offer M-Pesa as one of the payment options with transactions denominated in Kenyan shillings, Safaricom said.
“The move especially targets microtraders in the country who source goods and other supplies from manufacturers in China,” Safaricom said in a statement.
Safaricom, Kenya’s largest operator that is partly owned by South Africa’s Vodacom and Britain’s Vodafone, said the deal was part of an effort to transform M-Pesa into a global payments platform.
M-Pesa has become a major profit driver for Safaricom.