Mobile deals in lowest rise since the launch of M-Pesa

Mobile deals in lowest rise since the launch of M-Pesa

Mobile payment platforms offer convenience and speed. FILE PHOTO | NMG Payment deals settled through mobile phones and tablets in the first three months of the year rose at the slowest pace in the history of the globally-acclaimed innovation, official statistics have shown. This came at a time when businesses were complaining of depressed demand for goods and services.

Mobile payments amounted to nearly Sh1.087 trillion in the January-March 2020 period, a modest growth of Sh22.3 billion, or 2.1 percent, over Sh1.065 trillion in the same period of last year, latest statistics published by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) indicate.

The year-on-year growth in mobile money deals during the first quarter of 2020 is the lowest since M-Pesa, co-owned and operated by Safaricom, was rolled out in March 2007, making Kenya the first country in the world to go live with such an innovation.

Companies reported a sharp slump in orders during the three-month period, with overall business deals in private sector hitting lowest levels in more than two years, according to a closely watched monthly survey — Stanbic Bank Kenya’s Purchasing Managers Index (PMI).

The economic activity has been worsened by the debilitating impact of the public health guidelines such as partial trade lockdowns and travel restrictions announced by the Ministry of Health, to stem the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus.

As part of the sanitary measures, authorities on March 16 also reached an agreement with mobile network operators to waive charges for person-to-person transfers of less than Sh1,000 to encourage cashless payments.

The deal is aimed at cutting down on handling of cash and the attendant risk of the virus being transmitted from person to person. The CBK, the financial services regulator, has consequently more than doubled daily mobile money transfer limit to Sh150,000 from Sh70,000. Daily transaction ceiling has also been raised to Sh300,000 from Sh140,000 with customers now allowed to hold a maximum of Sh300,000 in their wallets, a steep jump from Sh100,000.

The impact of the measures to boost digital payments in the face of the contagious global coronavirus pandemic was expected to be felt from April.

In the January-March 2020 review period, mobile money accounts crossed 58.71 million, the CBK data shows, indicating an additional 8.35 million accounts were opened in the year through March 2020.

Daily transactions averaged Sh11.94 billion in the first quarter of 2020 compared with Sh11.83 billion the year before, while agents stood at 240,261 in March […]

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