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Airtel Kenya launches shopping service

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 15 – Kenya is once again a launch pad of new technology after Airtel unveiled a virtual shopping card that operates on the back of its mobile money transfer service.

The card which was developed in partnership with Standard Chartered Bank and Mastercard will enable Airtel customers to make online purchases from stores in Kenya or anywhere in the world.

Airtel Africa’s Chief Projects and Transformation Officer N. Arjun said the product known as ‘PayOnline’ was introduced in Kenya first in recognition of the fact that the country is one of the leading nations across the globe with innovative mobile phone solutions.

“This product is being launched in Kenya before we launch it in other countries around Africa where we have operations,” Arjun said although he did not reveal when the continental roll-out would be.

“This ground-breaking mobile commerce product will give consumers across the continent greater security and convenience of transacting over the internet,” he added.

Using the Airtel Money service, a subscriber will be required to enter the amount of money that he wishes to spend in the online purchase.

The amount entered will be in US dollars but the service will automatically convert it into Kenyan shillings at the day’s forex exchange rate.

Next, the customer will be required to request from the ‘Airtel money’ a virtual secret code which he will use in his transactions, which must be accepted by MasterCard.

The MasterCard VCN number, which is an authentic 16- digit number, can be used to make the payments.

Customers require a secret code which needs to be used within the first 24 hours. They can purchase goods worth Sh35, 000 per transaction and can only spend up to Sh70, 000 in a day.

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Speaking during the launch, the manager pointed out that PayOnline would not only contribute to the growth of e-commerce in the country but also help in increasing the number of people that have access to formal financial services.

His sentiments were shared by MasterCard’s area Head for East and West Africa and Indian Ocean Islands Daniel Monehin who expressed confidence that the product would set the pace in mobile and electronic payments.

“Financially empowering the citizens of Kenya is a rewarding experience, not only for consumers themselves, but for the various institutions and merchants that are involved in doing so,” said Monehin.

He reiterated his company’s vision to facilitate commerce by making it more efficient and cost-effective.

During the launch, the Acting Airtel Money Director Sieka Gatabaki took the opportunity to disclose that they have upgraded their money transfer service to give customers more value for money.

The new service menu has additional functionalities that for instance make it easier for customers to access their payment options and pay their bills.

“For instance if you are paying a power bill, you do not have to remember a series of numbers. We have made it easier for you; all you have to do is input the abbreviations for the company,” Mr Gatabaki explained.

He disclosed that they would continue to run more tests to ensure that they give their customers an interface that is easier to use and convenient.

At the same time, they were also looking to expand their agent network from the current 7,000 and would continue to sign partnerships with other key firms such as retail chains and banks.

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