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Safaricom in talks with U.S. giant Amazon on mobile payments

NAIROBI, (The Southern African Times) – Kenya’s Safaricom Plc is in talks with Amazon.com Inc. about the use of mobile-money service M-Pesa on the e-commerce giant’s platform, a report by Bloomberg said, as part of efforts to expand global reach and bounce back from a first profit decline in a decade.

Safaricom already has partnerships with a unit of China’s Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd. and Paypal Holdings Inc.

M-Pesa accounts for about a third of Safaricom’s revenue, and East Africa’s largest company sees the financial-technology product as key to future growth.

Chief Executive Officer Peter Ndegwa said that the company already runs local cloud sales for the U.S. giant.

Safaricom is by far the largest telecom operator in Kenya and the wider region, with Johannesburg-based Vodacom Group Ltd. owning a minority stake. The jewel in its crown is M-Pesa, which takes advantage of widespread use of smartphones to fill the gap left by a lack of traditional banking.

Sales from the service declined in the year through March, after Kenya’s central bank asked asked Safaricom to forgo some charges for nine months to discourage cash payments during the Covid-19 pandemic.

That contributed to the carrier’s first decline in annual profit since 2011. Net income dipped 6.8 percent to 68.7 billion shillings ($642 million) in the 12 months through March.

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