Mobile phone service provider Safaricom has signed a deal with Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) for Agent to Agent transactions that will help improve availability of M-Pesa in the market.
With the signing of the deal, authorized M-PESA agents can instantly access M-PESA when they make cash deposits at the bank.
Agents need both M-PESA and cash to serve customers. Currently, to obtain M-PESA, agents deposit cash into the M-PESA Holding Company bank account at Commercial Bank of Africa. In the event that they need to convert M-PESA into cash (a cash withdrawal) agents initiate a request on the M-PESA system which then goes through an internal process before the money is transferred to the agent's bank account through an EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer).
With the introduction of the KCB partnership, M-PESA Agents now have an alternative and quicker process to access M-PESA or cash at a nominal commission to the bank. To use the service, agent outlets are required to register their authorized personnel with KCB.
Pilot testing for Agent to Agent transactions began in February with Safaricom testing the service with 20 agent outlets and 16 KCB branches in different parts of the country. Following the successful pilot, the service is now available at all 145 KCB branches and is being introduced to the over 9,000 M-PESA agents around the country.
Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Mr. Michael Joseph says M-PESA agents will be able to access M-PESA or withdraw money from designated agents comprising initially of major financial institutions. The first of these designated Agents is the KCB branch network.
"We believe that this new service will increase M-PESA availability in the market as money will be able to circulate faster," he said during the signing ceremony at Safaricom House.
Mr. Joseph emphasized that Safaricom sees it as crucial for M-PESA to form strategic alliances with banks and other financial institutions to offer services that compliment each other to meet consumer needs.
Speaking at the event, KCB Group Chief Executive Mr. Martin Oduor-Otieno said the provision of services to M-PESA Agents was a key area of innovation that the bank will actively participate in as it continuously looks for opportunities for more innovative ways of doing business.
KCB also announced plans to designate one location within the Nairobi Central Business District by end of this month which will be open for seven days a week to give agents an opportunity to work all days of the week without running out of either M-PESA or cash to serve customers.
"M-PESA agents will also have a Bank to deposit their cash thus not run the risk of having too much cash on them thus creating a security risk to themselves," Mr. Oduor-Otieno said.
KCB's wide national reach with over 145 branches together with the seven days a week working hours will make it easy for agents even in remote areas; to carry out their banking needs to enhance their M-PESA agent roles.