Safaricom has made a review of its charges and transaction limits for M-pesa services in a mixed move seen to retain mass customers as well as gain from high transactions users. Customers will now be able to send and receive amounts as low as Sh10, against a previous limit of Sh50 at a cost of Sh3.
On the other hand, those transferring or withdrawing amounts above Sh5000 will have to pay more than they are used to. For instance,previously sending amounts less than Sh35,000 was charged at sh30 but this has been increased to between Sh50 and Sh75 depending on the amount. “It was very clear to us when we undertook this tariff review that we were in a unique position to extend the benefits of financial inclusion to more Kenyans, particularity those in lower income groups who rely very heavily on our service” said Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore. “We have introduced lower charges for smaller transactions but at the same time we have had to increase the charges levied on the bigger amounts being transferred,” said Collymore
In the last financial year, M-pesa revenues jumped 50 per cent to Sh12billion to form part of the Sh94billion total revenues. “This is motivated, in large part, by the need to give greater incentives to our growing agent network to embrace higher value transactions, while improving overall efficiency for our customers, particularly float availability” he added. The Central Bank of Kenya has been calling on mobile phone operators to cut their charges to encourage more financial inclusion of low income earners.
The increase announcement sparked debate from Kenyans on social media with one person saying “Safaricom is getting greedy with its tariffs for its money transfer service, M-Pesa”. Another user told yuMobile "yucash, up your game without delay because this is a golden opportunity for you to lure us in -new Mpesa rates are crazy".
The move comes as competition increases in the mobile money segment with new players coming in. All the mobile operators, Yu,Airtel and Telkom Kenya, have their money transfer platforms. This week Western Union, which has a global partnership with M-pesa, entered into a partnership with Ericsson to roll out mobile-to-mobile money transfer services in Africa. Nokia has also said it plans to venture in the market.