At the end of 2022, the CBK reintroduced bank-to-mobile money charges. The development followed a waiver of under two years when customers were allowed to send funds from the banks to mobile money wallets for free. It was a good move because it meant that users were not incurring transaction charges, which can be cumulatively high and prohibitive for customers.
Different banks announced their tariffs, and when we looked at them, they all fell under the same ballpark in terms of pricing, meaning it was challenging to pick a cheaper bank. Only NCBA Loop was not charging these fees at that time, and for the better part of January 2023, until the platform was revamped and reintroduced the charges.
At some time in January 2023 too, the High Court of Kenya banned banks from reintroducing the charges – and most of the banks ignored the directive, up to just the other day when the same court gave them a nod to continue charging customers.
Now, lender I&M seems to be taking a different direction in this case because it has scrapped those charges for customers. This means that they will not incur any fees when sending money to M-PESA, T-Kash, or Airtel Money, effectively making it the only bank that does so.
It could be a move to attract more customers to its platform, and we are certain a lot of them will open bank accounts with the bank so they can move money to mobile money wallets for free. It also means that existing customers will be encouraged to keep their money in the bank and only move when they need mobile money services.
I&M reports that there have been no significant changes since the bank resumed charging for mobile money transactions, indicating that people are continuing to use the service in the same way they did when fees were waived during the COVID pandemic.
“As part of our approach to service delivery, recent customer feedback showed that as much as our transaction rates are favorable, there was an opportunity to review our policies on bank-to-mobile money wallet charges for the digitally active customers,” Mwangi said in a statement. “We believe this move will offer new and existing customers to transact on mobile.”