Safaricom launches innovation centre in Nairobi

By professo

Kenya’s leading mobile telecom company and provider of M-Pesa, the nation’s mobile money service, Safaricom has opened a new innovation centre in Kenya’s capital city, in the Kilimani neighbourhood – outside the company’s main office.

The incubator, Safaricom Alpha, will prioritise analysing spending patterns on M-Pesa and use the collected date to create additional Safaricom products.

“Safaricom’s unique in that we have telco services and a financial services platform that connect nearly every household in Kenya largely on the basis of trade,” said Kamal Bhattacharya, Chief Innovation Officer of the company.

“We’d actually like to move beyond M-Pesa by leaveraging its power as a social network to connect people to other product solutions.”

73% of mobile subscribers are Safaricom customers, and its M-Pesa fintech app has 27mn customers across a network of 136,000 agents.

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The app generated Sh54bn (US$525mn) of the telco’s Sh207bn (US$2bn) annual revenues.

Safaricom has already been adding consumer and small business-based products to its mobile and fintech network through in-house development and partnerships, including digital TV, the M-KOPA solar-powered lighting kit, Lipa-Na bill pay service, and the Little ride-hail app.

The company are also set to launch an e-commerce, named Masoko, platform in the coming months.

“Facebook and others have connected people well on a social level, but are still at a fairly nascent stage in digital monetary transactions,” Bhattacharya added.

“Safaricom already has an extensive network of people, merchants, and governments all connected through monetary transactions.”

Dr Shikoh Gitua, former Technology Leader of African Development Bank, will be Head of Products Innovation. Safaricom’s Veronica Ogeto-Tchoketch will be Head of Strategic Partnerships. David Nyamai will be Team Manager of the Business Intelligence and Big Data Team.

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