Safaricom Waives Mpesa Fees in the Wake of COVID-19

Kenyan telco heeds bank regulator's call to waive mobile transactions in the wake of COVID-19

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Kenyan telcom giant, Safaricom, has announced a waiver on M-Pesa fees for transactions below Ksh1,000 ($10) due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This follows President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ask that banks and mobile money providers consider reducing costs of transactions to allow customers use cashless modes of payment. This was announced as part of the radical measures taken by government to stop the transmission of Covid-19, also known as novel coronavirus.

Safaricom also increased limits per mpesa transaction from the current Ksh70,000 ($700) to Ksh150,000 ($1,500), and daily transaction limit from Ksh140,000 ($1,400) to Ksh300,000 ($3,000).

This move emphasizes the ‘no need to carry physical cash’ for buying products by presidential decree that would warrant contact with notes. Safaricom has also considered the business side of things. They inked an interesting deal with the regulator, the Central Bank of Kenya.

When it comes to SME’s, Central Bank of Kenya has approved the increase of mpesa transaction limits from the current Kshs70,000 to Kshs150,000. Kenyans will also be able to transact up to Kshs300,000 up from the current limit of Kshs140,000 and hold up to Kshs300,000 in their mpesa wallets.

This deal is timely and rather intriguing keeping in mind that this was a regulatory hurdle Safaricom had been campaigning for mpesa. Back in 2018, the company wanted the Kshs 140,000 daily MPESA limit be increased.

A lot of money is moved on mpesa every quarter. As per the latest Sector Statistics from the Communications Authority, Kshs1.7 trillion was moved through mpesa between July and September 2019. For that reason, the transaction limits needed to be bumped up. The Covid-19 pandemic has made this a reality.

The Central Bank of Kenya, CBK, issued a press release regarding emergency measures to facilitate mobile money transactions locally, these being applicable to all mobile money platforms with effect from midnight March 16, 2020 until June 30, 2020.

The regulator also announced that there would be no charges for transfers between mobile money wallets and bank accounts.

 

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