November 25, 2015
Qatar Airways, the national airline of the State of Qatar, has announced a strategic partnership with Vodacom, one of the world's leading mobile money service providers, to enable customers to pay for airfare with the M-PESA service. According to the press release, travelers can book flights online or through travel agents using M-PESA as a payments option.
In order to enjoy the new service, travelers will need to choose M-PESA’s pay bill option, enter Qatar Airways’ business number 331199 and insert their booking reference number with the amount quoted at the booking time. Once the payment is processed, the customer will receive an SMS confirmation along with the e-ticket via e-mail.
Nina Pendaeli Eshun, Vodacom Tanzania's Acting Managing Director commented on the partnership saying, "We are proud to be associated with Qatar Airways, one of the world's leading airlines. Our goal is to remain relevant and responsive to market needs at all times. M-PESA is about reach, access and convenience. That is why Vodacom customers traveling on Qatar airways can now purchase their tickets anytime and anywhere at the mere click of a button."
The added payment option aimed to increase flexibility with payments methods. Basel Haydar, Qatar Airways Country Manager, explained, "Our passengers want to be able to book tickets 24/7 and instantly access our latest offers. So this solution is both user-friendly and gives passengers greater flexibility.
M-PESA was launched in 2007 by Vodacom as a P2P money transfer service and has since then evolved into a financial services platform that includes payment services for both consumers and enterprise organizations. Originally targeted to Kenyan and Tanzanian markets, the service expanded to Afghanistan, South Africa, India, and in 2014, to Eastern Europe. In 2013, M-PESA reported impressive statistics on the volume of P2P transactions made through the service reaching more than $750 million per month throughout 18.2 million registered users of which 11.6 million are active users. More than a third of airtime top-ups are made through M-PESA, as stated in the service blog. Over 36,749 merchants have been acquired for the Lipa Na M-PESA cashless merchant payment service.
Payment options expansion is a growing trend across industries. We have been discussing the meaning of expanded options with the main value of flexibility for the customer and processing cost reduction for the merchant. Both The Economist and CNN experts have been covering the question of low margins per passenger in the air travel industry, which could contribute to the promotion of more innovative and cheaper payments acceptance and processing solutions. Even though Qatar Airways is one of the market leaders, fast-changing customer preferences have forced the company to keep up to date with innovative solutions and payments options to create a smooth customer experience.