A few days ago, the CBK directed mobile operators and financial institutions to adjust their mobile money products to cushion the adverse effects of their users’ financial constraints brought forth by the COVID-19 menace.
Lenders dropped bank to mobile money charges, and the likes of M-PESA, T-Kash and Airtel Money waived sending fees for under KES 1000 transactions.
During the announcement of these adjustments, it was not clear if the waiver applied to merchants, which, as it has turned out, was only enforced for personal accounts.
Business owners are not happy that this is the case because, and according to their argument, the harsh economic times are affecting everybody and not just ordinary people.
It should be noted that only mobile to mobile transfers, and not payments, saw the lift of transaction fees. All pay bill numbers attract the same fees as before. Also, according to M-PESA, a move to limit the waiver to KES 1000 was arrived at after looking at their books because they cover near 75% of their transaction traffic.
Now, back to business accounts. One business owner has detailed his/her gripes with the manner both the CBK and M-PESA handled this development. Apparently, the announcement saw Safaricom change their B2B charges from free to the similar fees charged for B2C transactions. These businesses are, therefore, made to shoulder the sudden changes in tariffs that did not disclose that a business paying its suppliers would not benefit from free under KES 1000 payments.
So, I would like to raise an issue that I have noticed over the past two days. As an SME, we have been lied to by both the CBK governor @njorogep and this government. You lied to us!!
— Tai (@TonwaTai) March 26, 2020
On the bright side of things, the CBK Governor Patrick Njoroge says that Safaricom will waive merchant fees for transactions under KES 1000.
“The waiver charges for transactions below 1K was inadvertently left out for merchants during the implementation by Safaricom. This will be rectified. Sincere apologies,” said the Governor in a tweet.
— Patrick Njoroge (@njorogep) March 27, 2020