A Dutch fashion retailer has added Safaricom’s M-Pesa, Airtel Money and yuCash on its online payment options, reflecting increasing acceptance of mobile phone-based money for international transactions.
Suitsupply — a men’s fashion chain with more than 50 stores across the world including in the US, UK, China and Holland — says customers can now pay using mobile money in addition to credit cards and PayPal options.
The high-end retailer based in Amsterdam says this integration is part of its expansion strategy that will see it set up a franchise store in Nairobi, the first in Africa, in the coming months.
Suitsupply does not have any brick and mortar store in Africa but in September launched an online shopping portal targeting high-end shoppers on the continent.
The firm says the introduction of M-Pesa as a payment option would make “online shopping as seamless as it would be in Europe or the US.”
“We are tailoring our services to each country’s specific needs hence the introduction of M-Pesa, yuCash and Airtel Money for Kenya,” said Fokke de Jong, the chief executive and founder of Suitsupply.
Suitsupply’s introduction of M-Pesa comes a month after Vodafone Romania, a fully-owned subsidiary of Vodafone Group plc (Safaricom’s principal shareholder), launched the service, marking M-Pesa’s entry into Europe.
“In Kenya, billions of shillings are transacted through mobile money and that is why it is almost natural for us to introduce M-Pesa as one of the payment options on the website,” said Tania Habimana, the Suitsupply business development manager for sub-Sahara Africa.
According to Central Bank of Kenya data, Kenyans transacted Sh1.9 trillion on their mobile phones last year, equivalent to Sh5.2 billion daily.
In the six months to September alone, Safaricom earned Sh12.5 billion in M-Pesa commissions, highlighting the contribution of the service to the firm’s bottom line.
“Customers will make payments through a pay bill number and input the transaction code on the website when checking out. Delivery will be made within four days of making the purchase,” said Ms Habimana.
The fashion chain, which has received glowing reviews from publications like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, manufactures and sells suits, shirts, bags, shoes, jackets and ties as well as other accessories.
Since the launch of M-Pesa in 2007, Vodafone has worked with regulators for the service to gain international acceptability.
“The banking industry misunderstood M-Pesa and raised concerns about it. The Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank challenged me to find a way of persuading the government that the product was safe and secure,” said Michael Joseph, the director for mobile money at Vodafone.
Safaricom now seems to be covering major ground as it seeks to gain acceptance and trust on the international stage.
In February, Vodafone signed a deal allowing MoneyGram users to send cash directly to M-Pesa customers from any part of the world. The telco is in discussions to pen a similar deal with Skrill, UK-based online payments and cash remittances firm.
Suitsupply says it is searching for a local partner to set up a store in Kenya.