The icons for Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. applications Alibaba.com, clockwise from top left, Taobao, AliExpress, Taobao, Alipay and AliCloud, are arranged for a photograph on an Apple Inc. iPad in Hong Kong, China. (Photographer: Anthony Kwan/Bloomberg)

Safaricom, Alibaba Unit Agree Mobile-Payments Partnership

(Bloomberg) -- Safaricom Plc, Kenya’s biggest mobile operator, agreed a partnership with a unit of Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd. that will facilitate electronic payments.

The deal extends Safaricom customers’ ability to use its mobile-money service, known as M-Pesa, outside Kenya as the company looks to establish the system as a global platform. The firm has existing agreements with payments companies Western Union Co. and Paypal Holdings Inc.

The partnership allows shoppers on AliExpress, Alibaba’s online retail service, to pay for purchases using M-Pesa. It targets micro-traders in Kenya who source goods and other supplies from China, the Nairobi-based company said in a statement Tuesday.

The partnership “marks yet another important milestone not just in Safaricom’s efforts to take M-Pesa beyond Kenya, but to Kenya’s participation in the international e-commerce marketplace,” Chief Financial Services Officer Sitoyo Lopokoiyit said in the statement.

Mobile money accounts for 30 percent of Safaricom’s revenue and is forecast to grow 14 percent in the coming financial year. About 46 percent of international e-commerce transactions in Kenya are on AliExpress, Chief Customer Officer Sylvia Mulinge said at a briefing.

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