Airtel Money customers in Kenya to use mobile phones as virtual credit cards.

Press Release

Airtel Africa, Standard Chartered Bank and MasterCard Worldwide have announced the availability of the world’s first virtual payments card that operates off a mobile phone-based wallet in Kenya called PayOnline. Kenya is the first market in the world to make this type of payment solution publicly available, which lets Airtel Money customers in Kenya use their mobile phones to make online purchases from international MasterCard merchants around the world.

Airtel’s mobile technology platform works with the financial structure and regulatory framework provided by Standard Chartered Bank and with the global acceptance of MasterCard to ensure that Kenyan consumers will be able to transact online in a reliable, convenient and secure environment.

According to N Arjun, Chief Projects and Transformation Officer, Airtel Africa, “The launch of the world’s first virtual payment card on a mobile phone account marks a major milestone in Kenyan mobile commerce. It’s just like having a payment card on your mobile phone that you can use for online purchases, offering consumers high levels of security, accessibility, acceptance, and a global reach.”

With PayOnline, paying for an online purchase is quick and easy. People simply request a single-use shopping card number directly from their mobile phone’s menu of options. Airtel money services will then generate a special 16-digit number that enables the completion of the purchase. Once the purchase has been authorised, a confirmation message will be sent to the user’s mobile phone.

A single-use number assigned to each PayOnline purchase must be used for the first time within 24 hours, which offers increased security and protection to prevent unlawful access to people’s money. Transactions will initially be limited to Kes. 35,000.00 per transaction and Kes. 70,000.00 per day. However, theselimits can be changed in the months to come – dependent on demand.

People can purchase items online which are quoted in Euro, USD or Pound, and will be charged a fixed transaction fee of Kes.50.00 for each “PayOnline” number generated. This fee will be deducted from the customer’s Airtel Money account. “The connected world is shrinking at a rapid pace as people turn to mobile phones to connect with friends and make purchases on-the-go.

We saw that people want more options in making their payments easier and more convenient which is why we joined hands with Airtel and Standard Chartered Bank to help make people’s lives easier with this innovative new product,” said Daniel Monehin, MasterCard’s area head for East & West Africa and Indian Ocean Islands, MasterCard Worldwide.

“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. MasterCard looks forward to working with Standard Chartered Bank and Airtel to continue promoting the advantages of electronic payments and to accelerate the displacement of cash and cheques in Kenya,” he added.

“As a leading international bank in Africa, we are always looking for ways to bring innovative financial solutions to our customers in line with our brand promise: Here for good. We have been in Kenya for 100 years and have always been at the forefront of introducing new products and services to the market. The PayOnline solution is a unique way of ensuring that our customers can transact in the digital world for the first time without having to have a credit card or use their physical debit card. Airtel PayOnline will enable more Kenyan consumers to connect to the global marketplace via their mobile phones no matter where they are in the world,” says Kariuki Ngari, Executive Director Kenya, and Cluster Head, East Africa Consumer Banking, Standard Chartered Bank.

PayOnline received top honors as the Best Mobile Money Product or Solution at the Annual Global Mobile Awards held during Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2011. PayOnline was recognized as an innovative mobile payments solution that offers consumers in Kenya, and eventually across Africa, greater participation in the financial system through mobile commerce.

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  1. Mital Shah
    September 30, 2011 at 6:15 am — Reply

    It seems Airtel here have launched the service here, without full testing or even training their agents/ customer care. I tried to make a purchase for eBay via Paypal. I couldn’t even get past the initial Paypal verification because they send a Paypal verification code to authenticate the account. This is sent to the card (hence Airtel should forward this to subscriber ASAP) only after which you can verify your account/card and make payments. I have tried to explain this to 3 of their agents without any success, including screenshots from Paypal. I’ve given up on this service… perhaps I should go to their Cust Care shop & explain this to them yet again, but I doubt they will digest it.

    Also they state on their website FAQs there are no transaction fees etc… this wrong too as it actually deducts transaction fees and they confirm this by SMS!

    I fear trying the whole process again…

  2. February 19, 2012 at 5:07 pm — Reply

    innovation in the mobile phone sector has continued to thrive a sign that we are leaping forward in the IT sector.how better can we take advantage of the airtel money payOnline service as an online merchant in kenya?

  3. April 18, 2012 at 6:00 pm — Reply

    Bought 2day 58 dollars but i have been trying for the last one hour to pay via paypal account using the virtual card given to know avail. i have given up. will call them kesho.

  4. July 2, 2012 at 12:01 am — Reply

    we are working in integrating this into our site, anyone has an idea?

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