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Safaricom Loses Bid To Cap Free M-Pesa Transactions

Safaricom has lost the bid to cap huge losses brought by free M-pesa money transfer.

The telecoms operator petitioned the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) to cap the number of multiple transactions between two numbers, according to a recent disclosure of conference call transcripts between Safaricom and investors that was seen by the Business Daily.

Safaricom reported that customers were splitting huge sums of money transfers of as high as Sh60,000 to values of below Sh1,000, allowing them to enjoy a free service that ideally would have cost them Sh105 per transaction.

Under the CBK directive, mobile money transaction fees under Sh1,000 are free, with banks removing charges for customers moving cash between their mobile wallets and bank accounts.

Safaricom had also asked the banking regulator to lower the threshold for free mobile money transaction from Sh1, 000 to Sh500 to cut revenue losses estimated at Sh1.7 billion monthly.

CBK Extends Free M-Pesa Mobile Money Transactions

Following the extention of free transfer of mobile related money transfers of Sh1000 and less for a further 90 days. Safaricom foresees a loss of upto  16.2Billion in losses. The extension is expected to lapse in December this year.

Earlier data from the regulator showed that the daily average mobile phone money transactions of less than Sh1,000 grew by 83 percent to Sh1.98 billion daily between April 20 and May 10 when compared to the days before March 16— three days after Kenya announced its first positive Covid-19 case.

“What has happened a lot in those transactions below Sh1,000 is that people are starting to split transactions. If they want to send Sh60,000 they split it into 60 transactions. And believe it or not, people actually do that,” said Mr Joseph, safaricom’s Director

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Safaricom has raised concerns that CBK never consulted them ahead of the announcement extending the free transfer to December after the lapse of the initial waiver period in mid-July.

Their bid to have the directive revised was delt with a blow after CBK president ruled out any revision on the current directive.

“We have pressurised the CBK to allow us to cap the number of split transactions at five. So far CBK has not obliged, but we are continuing to put pressure on them. And we hope as we go forward that we will be able to cap transactions below five. This has had an impact on service revenue.”” said Mr Joseph.

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