Safaricom has rubbished claims that Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook want to buy out M-Pesa. Zuckerberg is the co-founder and chief executive of the social networking site.
The globally successful M-Pesa’s concept, launched in March 2007, is owned by UK’s Vodafone, which holds 40 per cent stake in Safaricom.
Speculations have been rife on social media this week that Zuckerberg’s September 1 visit to Nairobi was largely motivated by his interest to acquire M-Pesa.
Safaricom chief executive Bob Collymore on Friday said he did not meet the developer of the world’s largest online social media and networking services firm.
“Somebody made it up. It is just an Internet story,” Collymore told the Star. “I was supposed to meet him but I couldn’t because I was in a Safaricom’s board meeting.”
M-Pesa is the second fastest growing revenue stream for Safaricom after mobile data.
The platform raked in Sh41.50 billion in the year ended March 31, a growth of 27.18 per cent over Sh32.63 billion it posted the year before.
Facebook has been ruthless in asserting its dominance in the mobile space, with two major acquisitions this decade. The firm, whose assets in 2015 stood at about Sh5 trillion ($49.41 billion) acquired photo-sharing application Instagram in April 2012 for an estimated $1 billion (about Sh101.32 billion under the prevailing exchange rates) in a cash and stock deal.
Facebook followed it up with the buyout of popular messaging platform WhatsApp in February 2014 for $19 billion (about Sh1.93 trillion under the prevailing exchange rates).
Collymore said, however, Zuckerberg could easily hire developers and build a payment platform for Facebook if he really wants a facility like M-Pesa.
Zuckerberg, the 32-year-old Internet entrepreneur and philanthropist, had clarified that his mission in Nairobi was to meet with technopreneurs and developers, and learn about M-Pesa. Safaricom closed 1.58 per cent higher day-on-day on Friday to Sh19.30 per share.