The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has announced the resumption of charges for transactions above Ksh.100 effected through bank-specific (in-house) mobile money wallets that are closely linked to the Savings and Credit Societies (SACCO) sector. In a statement, the regulator noted that the SACCO sector is deeply integrated into these wallets and accounts for a significant share of their transactions and since banks provide SACCOs with an important bridge to the domestic and cross border payment systems through them, if the current price regime continues, the viability of these services may be adversely affected, given the inability to cover the underlying costs.
This is a significant risk for SACCOs and their extensive membership due to the lack of other alternatives to connect to the mobile money ecosystem. The resumption of charges will provide space to increase the connection options for SACCOs. CBK says the charges will be subject to review by the bank against the pricing principles announced on December 17, 2020, of customer-centricity, transparency and disclosure, fairness and equity, choice and competition, and affordability. These principles were introduced on the expiry of the emergency measures waiving charges for low-value mobile money person-to-person transactions below Ksh.1,000. Other measures on waiver of charges between mobile money wallets and bank accounts remained in force.
According to the CBK, banks in Kenya typically deploy two types of mobile banking wallets. In the first model, banks partner with payment service providers to utilize their mobile money wallets to provide a variety of transactions through customers’ bank accounts. In the second model, banks invest directly in their own in-house mobile banking wallets to facilitate mobile money and other wallet-based financial services. This second model typically involves a third party as a technology provider.
CBK said it will continue to monitor developments and support the growth of the payments ecosystem to ensure choice, competition, and affordability.
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