The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has warned Kenyans against engaging with two African payment gateways that are not licensed to operate in the country. The two start-ups, Nigerian Fintech, Flutterwave and San-Fransisco based start-up Chipper Cash are not allowed to carry out transactions in Kenya.
CBK governor Patrick Njoroge revealed that the two firms are not licensedto operate remittance businesses or offer payment services to merchants in the country during a Q&A session during the Monetary Policy Committee Meeting (MPC) on Wednesday.
“Flutter wave is not licensed to operate remittance provider or for that matter as a Payment Service Provider in Kenya. They are not licenced to operate and therefore they shouldn’t be operating. And Chipper we could also say the same,” Dr Njoroge said.
Both start-ups have attracted hefty investments from the West and have rapidly expanded across the continent in the last few years. Regulators have however accused the firms of engaging in money-laundering schemes and linked some of their operations to fraud.
Last month, the High Court in Kenya froze Sh6.7 billion belonging to Flutterwave after the firm was linked to money-laundering schemes. The company was accused of carrying out questionable activities and not being in compliance with the Kenyan financial laws.
Flutterwave operated 29 bank accounts with Guaranty Trust Bank, 17 with Equity Bank and 6 with Ecobank. Flutterwave was listed as the biggest company among six others which are under investigation, with the largest share of frozen assets at Sh6.7 billion.
“Investigations established that the bank accounts operations had suspicious activities where funds could be received from specific foreign entities which raised suspicion. The funds were then transferred to related accounts as opposed to settlement to merchants,” prosecutors alleged in filings.
According to the court, the start-up founder Olugbenga Agboola had conducted dubious transactions worth about Sh12 billion before the authorities learned of its activities. Working in cahoots with associates in Nairobi, Agboola operated covertly to take advantage of the nation’s banking system, making roughly 185 online card purchases using the same identifying number.
Chipper Cash was founded by Ghanaian Maijid Moujaled and Ugandan Ham Serunjogi in 2018.The firm provides quick cross-border mobile money transfers in Africa.
It has approximately Sh35.9 billion ($302.2 million) in funding under its belt, with its most recent round being a Series C round in November of last year. Chipper Cash is based in San Francisco, California, in the United States.