Kenya’s mobile operator Safaricom has forged a strategic partnership with Visa to develop digital payment services for its mobile money payment service M-PESA.

This comes close on the heels of Safaricom wrapping the acquisition of M-PESA from British telecom giant Vodafone.

The mobile operator claims that the arrangement will cover products for over 24 million M-Pesa customers and more than 173,000 Lipa Na M- Pesa merchants.

The partnership will also cover 61 million merchant locations across Visa’s global network and issue 3.4 billion Visa cards in more than 200 countries and territories.

Additionally, the companies will jointly offer an expanded set of mobile e-commerce capabilities to merchants and consumers by offering them secure cashless payment solutions.

Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa said: “This partnership will play an important role in delivering even more value to our customers, linking them to even more opportunities especially in global e-commerce.”

Visa CEMEA president Andrew Torre said: “Visa is committed to creating new and improved payment experiences for consumers and businesses everywhere, helping drive progress and unlock incredible new opportunities for all.

“Safaricom and M-Pesa have already transformed millions of everyday lives throughout Africa and put Kenya on the map as a global leader in mobile money.”

Visa East Africa vice president and general manager Corine Mbiaketcha added: “We envision that our combined efforts in enabling seamless and interoperable financial services and products will eventually drive much desired financial inclusion in our communities.”

M-PESA has 40 million users in the African continent and processes more than a billion transactions per month.

Currently, the mobile money payment service is operational in Kenya, Tanzania, Lesotho, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Mozambique and Egypt.