Safaricom opened up the API for M-Pesa to third-party developers, a move it hopes will encourage innovation and attract more traffic onto the mobile money system.
However, some of the immediate feedback expressed frustration about shortcomings in the API, alongside excitement about getting access to the world’s most popular service of its kind.
Safaricom said the API was possible because it had moved the M-Pesa platform from Germany to its home market.
The API is open to both local and international developers.
“The new M-Pesa platform dubbed G2 (for M-Pesa 2nd generation platform) offers versatile integration capabilities that our development partners can take advantage of, to create excellent M-Pesa journeys across the different industries they serve,” trumpeted the operator.
Safaricom said opening the API was “a key factor” behind moving to the new platform. The operator consolidated various interfaces in which developers have expressed an interest. Unsurprisingly, most are focused around payments, covering disbursements (B2C), service payments (C2B) and business to business (B2B).
The API promises open interfaces over standard protocols through web services, said the company, unlike the old M-Pesa platform (G1) which included a lot of workarounds.
However, not everyone gave the API a warm welcome. “Safaricom opening up M-Pesa is a good initiative but 2015 and no REST interfaces?? #MPESADevForum and documentation packaged in a .zip!”, complained Soud Hyder in a tweet.
Bonfix Fixer Ex took to Facebook to express his view: “The so much awaited @SafaricomLtd Mpesa API has been released today. The most frustrating part about it is its API Guide, it’s probably the worst you’ve ever seen, I think my Bachelors 4th Year Project documentation was better than its documentation.”
“Moreover, the documentation is contained in zipped Ms [Microsoft] Word Documents. Who presents documentation in Ms Word? Furthermore, there seems to be no samples attached. The documents contains a lot of unnecessary chunk, one of its document spanning up to 52 pages,” he added.
Despite all that, he concluded: “Anyway, it’s a great step forward.”
AndrewK was more concise: “Hurriedly (and excitedly) opens up Safaricom MPesa API spec. Sigh. SOAP!! Dies.”