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Zap and M-PESA: Kenyan eCommerce Advantage

By Wayan Vota on September 25, 2009

In my interview with Rachel Essendi, founder of the eCommerce marketplace, Rachel’s Bargain Corner, she mentioned an interesting advantage that she felt differenced her site in Kenya.

None of the other shopping sites have an automated payment engine that integrates Zap and M-PESA. Our payment engine has set us apart from all the other shopping sites in the country.

This move towards mobile payment systems for web-based eCommerce sites is quite recent – previously they were all credit card driven. Which lead me to ask Rachel more questions, specifically around mobile payments. Her conclusion: both Zap and M-PESA give shoppers comfort and convenience unmatched by credit cards.

A new way to pay – online!

You take Zap and M-PESA, but not credit cards or Paypal. Why?

Rachel: This is a deliberate move and we have had some local publishers ask us the same question. Credit cards in Kenya are a preserve of the rich and we reckoned that this would turn off many Kenyans who don’t have the same and usually associate the same with the rich.

Our target market is the majority of Kenyans and with the popularity of Zap and M-PESA in the country we wanted and continue to provide a solution that is relevant and one which the local market can identify with its all about our market.

Was it hard to get M-PESA or Zap? Do you feel they are enabling your site’s growth?

M-PESA and Zap are the most popular money transfer modes in the country, this is because of their availability and ease of use, we are just riding on this technology that the mobile phone operators launched. What we did was to integrate the same into our web site. Most people identify with M-PESA and Zap and when they come to our site and see that we are supporting the same they find it easier to transact on our site.

Both Zap and M-PESA has enabled us to have our checkout system, without an efficient money transfer system we would not be able to offer a complete online shopping experience. The fees they charge are reasonable with Zap charges being lower than M-PESA, but the latter has more people on it.


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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks and is the Digital Health Director at IntraHealth International. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of IntraHealth International or other ICTWorks sponsors.
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