Slightly more than two years after moving back to Safaricom to head the telco’s mobile money transfer unit, MPESA, Sitoyo Lopokoiyit has been promoted to head of MPEA Africa, though in an interim capacity.
In an internal memo, Safaricom announced to staff that Sitoyo Lopokoiyit has been appointed the head of the newly created joint venture between the telco and South Africa’s Vodacom Group to run the M-Pesa platform.
(TOP: Sitoyo Lopokoiyit).
Sitoyo Lopokoiyit rejoined Safaricom in April 2018 from Vodacom Tanzania where he had been as the M-Commerce Director from October 2015. As the Chief Financial Services Officer, he is currently responsible for growing the M-PESA platform to a fully-fledged financial platform. He is in charge of New Business Ventures, Product Management and Development for both Consumer and Enterprise.
In early April, Safaricom and Vodacom announced that they had completed the acquisition of the M-Pesa brand from the Vodafone Group in a transaction reportedly worth Kshs 1.4 billion.
South Africa’s Vodacom and UK’s Vodafone Group hold a combined 40 percent stake in Safaricom.
Apart from South Africa and Kenya through its stake in Safaricom, the Vodacom brand has a presence in Tanzania, the DRC, Mozambique and Lesotho.
With a majority of its users in Kenya where it made its debut in 2007, MPESA currently has a presence in Tanzania, Lesotho, DRC, Ghana, Mozambique and Egypt.
Lopokoiyit, who will still hold his role of Chief Financial Services Officer at Safaricom, is now set to head MPESA Africa’s 5-member leadership team.
“To realise our ambition, the M-Pesa Africa Joint Venture will be steered by a team of five leaders consisting of the commercial director, finance director, technology director, head of compliance and risk and the chief of financial services, Safaricom. This team will be led by (or report directly to) Sitoyo Lopokoiyit (Interim MD M-Pesa Africa),” said the internal statement.
The Safaricom statement said the joint venture will allow the parties to consolidate M-Pesa platform development, synchronise more closely product road maps, and improve operational capabilities into a single, fully converged unit.
“The joint venture will drive the next generation of the M-Pesa platform – an intelligent, cloud-based platform for the smartphone age,” noted Safaricom.
According to Business Daily, Safaricom previously had to pay Vodafone billions of shillings in fees for the rights to use the M-Pesa brand, as the UK firm owned the platform’s intellectual property. The move to acquire the brand is therefore expected to enable Safaricom save on the fees besides gaining more autonomy to run the service in partnership with Vodacom.