Safaricom Set To Launch E-Commerce Platform For Small Businesses In October

Written by Peter Pedroncelli

Safaricom, the world’s biggest mobile money operator, is set to launch an e-commerce platform in October that will be focused on supporting and enabling small businesses to sell their products online.

The aim of Masoko, as the e-commerce platform will be called, will be to give small and micro businesses access to markets that they would otherwise be unable to reach with their products, according to CNBCAfrica.

It will initially launch in Kenya, but will in time be available to other parts of Africa, allowing a person in Nigeria to buy products from businesses based in Kenya, for example.

It will therefore compete directly with the likes of Takealot, Jumia and Kilimall, stocking products in categories that include fashion, cosmetics, electronics and even beverages.

Despite the competition with more established e-commerce brands, Masoko will be focused on small businesses, and shoppers will be able to to use different currencies when paying for goods, according to Telecompaper.

Users will not be forced to use Safaricom’s successful mobile money platform M-Pesa when paying for goods on Masoko, as other e-wallets and cards will also be accepted.

An e-commerce platform for small merchants

While the e-commerce platform will be used by supermarkets and other more established brands, Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore explained that Masoko will also work with small merchants from Kenya and other African countries.

“The difference between us and some other players in the market is that we also want to work with tried and tested brands and merchants. Even if they are small merchants, we want to work with them to ensure they have quality products,” said Collymore, according to CapitalFM.

A comination of growing access to smartphones and a high number of mobile internet users has pushed Safaricom towards launching their e-commerce platform, with the value of mobile commerce transactions recorded at just over $6 billion at the end of March, the Kenyan communications regulator reports.

The internal testing phase for Masoko was launched in July, and Safaricom expects the platform to be ready for launch come October.

Earlier in August, telecoms giant Vodacom finalized their $2.6 billion share acquisition of Safaricom, with the South African company now owning a 35 percent stake in the Kenyan telecommunications and mobile operator, according to ITWeb.