Norwegian mobile web browser developer Opera Mini will next month introduce a payments’ platform enabling Kenyans to settle utility bills and top-up airtime online.
Opera Software AS executive vice president Payments and Fintech Nuno Sitima said the new service, Opay, will be incorporated on the popular mobile web browser used by many Kenyans to access the web.
“We have tested this service for several months and hope to make mobile payment more accessible in Kenya where more than 80 per cent of the country’s population has access to a cellphone that uses Opera Mini to access the internet,” said Mr Sitima.
Mr Sitima said users will initially be able to top up Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom airtime as well as pay electricity, cable TV and utility bills directly from the platform using major credit cards, Airtel Money and M-Pesa payment methods.
The firm is currently recruiting staff for their Nairobi-based subsidiary O-Play Kenya Ltd, a privately held company affiliated with the Opera Software Group. The Nairobi office will also serve as a hub for its planned regional expansion.
The Oslo-listed firm said the Kenyan office will comprise a large number of web developers who will formulate local web products that reflect local tastes thereby helping lure more Kenyans to use the platform.
In an earlier interview, Opera Software Africa vice president Richard Monday described Africa as an important market where over 100 million users access the internet using the Opera Mini browser.
“Africa is a very important market for Opera. Nine of the top 20 Opera Mini user countries are from Africa. A locally built platform is our best bet for further enhancing value for users especially in e-commerce for businesses, operators and original equipment manufacturers,” he said.
Opera is working with 47 top-tier African publishers covering 107 websites on the initiative that will see them launch fast and affordable internet in Kenya and across Africa.
The company added that it was looking for local partners to integrate value-added services, mobile payment and data bundling into its browser product.