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2020 Has So Far Not Been Good To Mobile Money in Kenya, But Why?

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Payment transactions done through mobile money services in Kenya have apparently risen at the slowest pace in the history of the globally-acclaimed innovation, official statistics have shown.

According to recent reports, the first quarter of 2020 has not been as good as one would expect for the likes of M-PESA and Airtel Money. This surely comes as a surprise at a time when cash transactions are the ones that you would expect to go down as people adopt digital methods.

Mobile payments amounted to about KES 1.087 trillion from January to March 2020 seeing a growth of KES 22.3 billion (2.1%) from Q1 2019’s KES 1.065 trillion as published by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK). This year-on-year growth in mobile money payment transactions has now indicated to be the lowest since M-PESA was rolled out in March 2007, which goes to say a lot.

This could be seen as a result of the current economic crisis caused by the ongoing pandemic that has rendered partial lockdowns and travel restrictions across the country. But at a time when sanitary measures have required Kenyans to transact more via mobile money services rather than solid cash, you would expect the numbers to have risen higher than ever.

The CBK did make the decision to double daily mobile money transfer limit from KES 70,000 to KES 150,000. Daily transaction ceiling was also raised to Sh300,000 from Sh140,000 with customers now allowed to hold a maximum of Sh300,000 in their wallets, a steep jump from Sh100,000.

However, the impact of these measures to boost digital transactions and payments was expected to be felt from April, which is majorly why the expected figures didn’t reflect for Q1 2020. So, it will be interesting to see what kind of numbers register as Q2 2020 wraps.

Safaricom that currently owns M-PESA seems to be hopeful as well for huge numbers considering the heavy investment that has been done lately to promote digital payment. Other than the charge waivers, the company has also approved 13,304 more M-PESA agents across the country this year alone.

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“People don’t pay a lot of attention to the capacity and investment done by the mobile network companies especially Safaricom, said Stephen Nduati, an independent mobile money consultant, in an interview with Business Daily. When they started, they couldn’t do as many transactions per second. Today, they have invested heavily to have a platform that’s running 24/7. This is helping fight cash transactions.” he added.

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