MOBILE MONEY

Cashless transactions rise as coronavirus threat rises

The pandemic has showcased why the country needs to move towards becoming a cash-lite economy

In Summary

•More mobile cash transfers are expected as a number of banks and other institutions offering financial services have waived transaction fees to reduce the handling of hard cash

•Cashless payments are expected to cut down on the handling of cash and the risk of the virus being transmitted from person to person

Pedestrians walk past an M-PESA shop in downtown Nairobi May 12,2009 as a customer makes a transaction./FILE
Pedestrians walk past an M-PESA shop in downtown Nairobi May 12,2009 as a customer makes a transaction./FILE

More Kenyans are opting to use mobile and online cash transfers as opposed to handling hard cash as the country grapples with the spread of COVID-19

According to Kenya Bankers Association director for research and policy, the global coronavirus pandemic has showcased why the country needs to move towards becoming a cash-lite economy.

"The case for less use of physical cash is far more compelling with the global pandemic,” he told the Star. “ We now need to leverage on strides we have made so far.”

 
 

More mobile cash transfers are expected as a number of banks and other institutions offering financial services have waived transaction fees to reduce the handling of hard cash.

Standard Chartered, Co-operative Bank  and Stanbic are among lenders who have already eliminated transaction fees

Last Monday, the Central Bank of Kenya reached a deal with local lenders to waive the charges until June 30, as part of measures meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

This is in response to the directive by H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta where he asked all financial institutions to explore ways to increase mobile money usage to reduce the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus.

Cashless payments are expected to cut down on the handling of cash and the risk of the virus being transmitted from person to person.

Integrated Payments Service Limited (IPSL) PesaLink also announced that all PesaLink transactions will be free until June 30, 2020.

 
 

Data by the Communications Authority for July-September period shows a total of 661.6 million transactions (sending and withdrawals) valued at over Sh1.7 trillion were made.

Of these 425.3 million were mobile commerce transactions valued at Sh1.6 trillion, while the remaining Sh665 billion accounted for person-to-person mobile cash transfers.

Safaricom's M-pesa controls 99 per cent of mobile commerce payments in the country. 

The use of mobile money has over the years been fast-tracked by the use of online platforms, allowing customers to order for goods and services at the comfort of their homes.

A trend that is likely to increase significantly in the weeks ahead as more Kenyans are forced to stay at home to minimise the spread of coronavirus.

On Monday, online marketplace Jumia said it had witnessed a surge in online shoppers requesting for essential products.

Chief executive Sam Chappatte, said demand for groceries, ready-made foodstuff as well as home cleaning products had shot up as Kenyans remained indoors as the country grapples with the Coronavirus scourge.

In light of this, the online retailer said it had ceased the use of cash for payments,  opting for cashless transactions.

“This is according to Central Bank of Kenya guidelines that we deter use of cash as it has been found to be a major vector for Coronavirus infections. You can pay upfront or await delivery to make payments via mobile cashless platforms,” he said.