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Covid-19: M-Pesa waives fees to discourage cash usage

Covid-19: M-Pesa waives fees to discourage cash usage

Kenyan telco Safaricom is waiving fees for its hugely popular M-Pesa mobile money service in an effort to encourage people to ditch cash during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Following a meeting with the Central Bank of Kenya's governor to explore ways to reduce the risk of spreading the virus through the physical handling of cash, Safaricom is making all P2P transactions of less than Ksh1000 (about $10) free for the next 90 days.

In an effort to support SMEs, M-Pesa daily transaction limits have been raised from Ksh70,000 to Ksh150,000, with Kenyans able to transact and hold in their wallets up to Ksh300,000.

Earlier this month, the World Health Organisation advised consumers to avoid handling bank notes and instead switch to contactless payments to deter the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

The WHO's advice came after China and Korea began isolating and disinfecting used bank notes, which are known carriers of viruses and bacteria.

M-Pesa has more than 20 million customers and 175,00 agents in Kenya, a country that currently has four active cases of Covid-19.

Comments: (3)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 18 March, 2020, 10:55Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Maybe the payment schemes should encourage merchants to accept cotnactless payment by lowering Interchange fees for Cotnactless payment credential presentment.

Steve Ellis
Steve Ellis - Finextra Research - London 18 March, 2020, 22:28Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

I like this initiative. Well done M-Pesa.

We are seeing lots of ambulance chasing marketing piggy backing on Coronavirus. But this is genuinely helping customers. 

What are other banks and fintechs doing to ease the pain of their customers in relation CORVID-19?

Russell Bell
Russell Bell - Fastbase Ltd - Wellington 19 March, 2020, 01:31Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Hmmm.  In another article published on Finextra today: South African central bank hits out at banknote recall scammers ..."In its statement, the central bank dismisses popular fears about the risk of infection from banknotes: "There currently is no evidence that the Covid-19 virus is transmitted through the use of banknotes and coin.

"Despite reports that the World Health Organization was pushing people to use contactless payments, a spokesperson for the WHO had told CNBC that it has not issued any formal warnings or statements about the use of cash."