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Kenyans Turn To Cashless Transactions In The Wake Of Coronavirus

Point of Sale with Lipa na Mpesa payment platform. [PHOTO/ COURTESY]

Currently, over 244,500 people have been infected with the novel coronavirus (covid-19) and over 10,000 covid-19 deaths reported globally.

This is according to Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking cases reported by the World Health Organization and additional sources.

In Kenya where seven coronavirus cases have been discovered, the government has urged Kenyans to use cashless transactions to avoid more infections.

In turn, Safaricom scrapped transaction fees for amounts below Ksh1,000, a move that was emulated by other telcos including Airtel and Telkom.

Read: Safaricom Not Charging MPesa Transactions Below Sh1,000 For 90 Days Over Coronavirus Outbreak

There are at least 30 million Mpesa subscribers in Kenya as of 2019, in a population of 47 million people according to the 2019 National Census. Mpesa is a mobile money venture by Safaricom, Kenya’s biggest telco.

This means that almost every family has an Mpesa subscription, hence turning to cashless transactions is one of the easiest options for Kenya.

As of August 2019, there were over 167,000 Mpesa agents countrywide, while almost every business venture having Mpesa Till Number or Paybill Number, Safaricom’s mode of receiving payment from customers with Mpesa wallets.

Wallets can be used to withdraw or deposit funds in one’s bank account, so it is not necessary to go to the bank physically to make withdrawals or deposits.

Read: What You Need To Know About Securenet, Safaricom’s Home Fibre Antivirus

With the outbreak of coronavirus, safaricom will now allow Mpesa customers to transact up to Ksh300,000 up from the current limit of Ksh140,000.

As the people move away from cashless payments, MPesa will allow its customers hold up to Kh300,000 in their M-PESA wallets up from Ksh70,000.

According to a 2019 Consumer Insight report, Kenyan preference for cash has decreased from the rate of 85 per cent recorded in 2017, while mobile money usage has grown to 14 per cent in 2019 from 8 per cent in 2017. This is a commendable growth, in a country that has always depended on cash for trade.

Previously, cashless transactions was left for those making ‘big’ transactions using Visa and Credit cards, but now customers can pay amounts as low as Ksh10 thanks to mobile mobile. This limits the use of cash to only places where it cannot be avoided.

Read: Airtel Kenya Abolishes All Charges on Mobile Money for 90 Days, Telkom Kenya Copies Safaricom

Kenyans transacted at least Ksh4.13 trillion on mobile money in 2019, a recent report by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) shows.

This was a rise by Ksh361.39 billion compared to the amount transacted in 2018 according to the data.

On average, subscribers transacted Ksh11.91 billion daily throughout the year, reflecting a hike in demand of the mobile money services in the county.

CBK said that the money transactions in 2019 was equivalent to 46.15 percent of the estimated size of the estimated size of Kenya’s economy, Ksh9.4 trillion.

For December 2019 alone, at least 10.67 million mobile money accounts were opened, hitting the 58.36 million mark for the first time in history.

Read: Safaricom Unveils New No-Expiry PostPay Plans

Mobile commerce transactions went up by 8.8 per cent to reach 526.9 million valued at Ksh1.5 5 trillion while person-to-person transfers were valued at KSh718.2 billion.

With most people turning to cashless transactions especially mobile money in the wake of coronavirus pandemic, the amount is likely to go up.

Even so, most people could permanently shift to mobile money transactions, owing to its ease of use and convinient.

Mobile money can be used anywhere in the country, and you only pay what you used so there will be no waste of time looking for change in case you have ‘big’ money.

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Written by Francis Muli

Senior reporter at Kahawa Tungu, Muli has a passion for human interest stories. Believes in unearthing societal rots that have been hidden from the public eye.
Follow me on Twitter @FmuliKE.

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