What happened: Kenyan mobile network operator Safaricom has secured a deal with Alibaba that will allow shoppers in Kenya to use its mobile payment service, M-Pesa, for shopping on AliExpress, an e-commerce platform run by Alibaba. Under the deal, Alibaba’s payment arm, Ant Financial, will soon offer M-Pesa as one of the payment options with transactions denominated in the local currency, which will allow shoppers to buy goods on AliExpress even without a credit card. “The move especially targets microtraders in the country who source goods and other supplies from manufacturers in China,” Safaricom said in a statement.
Why it’s important: Safaricom’s partnership with Alibaba is part of the move to expand its payment service, also its most profitable product, into global markets. Big e-commerce companies around the world are tapping into lucrative opportunities in Kenya, which has undergone a mobile commerce revolution. Amazon, one of Alibaba’s biggest rivals in the US, rolled out a new service in the country last month that allows tech-savvy consumers to pay for their purchases in cash. M-Pesa now offers payment services, loans, and savings to more than 21 million users in Kenya.