The COVID-19 pandemic has been a disaster to many people, communities and businesses, and countries as a whole. Kenya, in particular, has been hit, and in an effort to sustain itself, some organizations have been forced to let some of their employees go.
During the presentation of the 2020/2021 budget, it became apparent that Kenya is planning to absorb the shock of the pandemic, and we detailed some of the funds that have been set aside to manage the virus.
The government has also been trying to encourage the use of mobile money services (to stop the spread of virus droplets that may be on hard cash). The product, which is offered by Kenya carriers and many other banking institutions, has taken root among Kenyans mainly because it has been here for an extended period, and is entrenched so much in the economy it is hard to perform some transactions without it.
To this end, the Central Bank of Kenya announced that it would slash any charges associated with sending cash under KES 1000 but strictly for mobile money services.
For banks, the CBK directed them to make transfers from them to mobile wallets free.
“PSPs and commercial banks will eliminate charges for transfers between mobile money wallets and bank accounts,” reads a directive from the CBK.
It should also be noted that the directive was renewed, and is in place until Dec 31, 2020.
The main aim of this story is linked to a petition carrier Safaricom lobbied against the directive to the CBK. Safaricom argued that it was already losing billions of shillings in M-PESA revenues, and to add salt to injury, some customers with a lot of time in their hands were splitting large transfers into KES 1000 transfers.
Safaricom wanted the CBK to cap the transfers to a maximum of 5 transactions to a single person. The petition was, however, thrown out.
Splitting transfers into KES 1000 bills is not something you should do at this moment because it is tedious, and not right if normal human behaviour is something you subscribe to.
We add that there are better ways to do so, and you will not spend an extra shilling in transaction fees. You just need a bank account, and we have confirmed it works for Equity and NCBA.
Say you want to send KES 60000. M-PESA would charge you KES 105 to send – and KES 300 to withdraw the same amount.
- Send the money to you bank (say Equity, KCB or NCBA – free
- Send the same money to the recipient – free because of the aforementioned directive
It is a two-step process that will save you some money, and the agony of splitting the bills into KES 1000 free transfers.
We have noted that M-PESA to NCBA (Loop) still attracts charges. You might also want to check with your bank.
You should also note that Equity has zero-rated transactions on both ends for products associated with M-PESA. Equity has also been incurring the customer cost on Safaricom platform transactions for a while, and the CBK regulations come in play here because Safaricom would not charge Equity to make the exercise possible.