It is possible that sometime in 2022, customers will be forced to pay transaction fees when moving money from their bank accounts to mobile money wallets such as M-PESA.
This follows a lobby by the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) to the CBK to return the fees because reportedly, banks are losing substantial revenue from free transfers.
It should be remembered that the COVID-19 pandemic has been here for a long time, and in a few months, it will hit a two-year mark.
At its start, the state and state agencies sought to alleviate the burden of the pandemic to residents by making some key decisions. First, it encouraged cashless money transfers to curb the spread of the virus. Specifically, CBK waived mobile money fees for under KES 1000 transfers. Secondly, it also directed banks to waive charges when sending money from bank accounts to mobile money wallets.
However, towards the end of 2020, Safaricom reported it had lost billions in revenue following the earlier directive. Nevertheless, it revised its charges for 2021 and onwards prior to the reinstatement of transaction fees for under KES 1000 transfers.
The same issue was brought up to the CBK by banks, but the CBK maintained that the waiver should stay in place.
This has been very important to Kenyans who have since avoided transaction fees when sending money to mobile wallets by first transferring funds to their bank accounts, and then sending the same money to their recipients.
KBA, according to a statement seen at Business Daily, argues that the harsh effects of the pandemic have waned, so it is only fair that the charges are reintroduced.
Still, it is worth noting that the economy and Kenyans as a whole are struggling, with increased cases of the virus being reported across the country in the last couple of weeks. The virus is not only a grappling pandemic and public health crisis; it has also severely affected the economy.
Notable reductions in income, a rise in unemployment, and disruptions in the service, and manufacturing industries are among the consequences of the disease mitigation measures that have been implemented locally.
It has become clear that the Kenya government underestimated the risks of rapid COVID-19 spread and is mostly reactive in its crisis response.
As the pandemic is not likely to disappear in the near future, proactive local actions are required to not only save lives but also protect economic prosperity.
Overall, how the CBK will respond to these requests is something we will have to wait to see as we enter 2022.