M-Pesa transactions rise despite higher charges

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Kenyans defied a rise in mobile charges to make transactions worth Ksh139 billion ($1.64 billion) last month, new data from Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) indicate.

This was a continuation of growth in use of the service from last year, when Kenyans sent an average of Ksh118 billion ($1.4 billion) per month. Kenyans in 2012 transacted business on mobile money transfer platforms worth Ksh1.5 billion ($18 billion), the highest in the history of Kenya.

The February transactions, the CBK data released last week show, were a marginal drop of $0.02 billion from the previous month’s figures. The amount of money transacted nevertheless defied increase in mobile money tariffs effected early February by Safaricom, which runs M-Pesa.

The company increased its charges by 10% after the government introduced a 10% excise duty in a bid to raise more revenue to cater for a ballooning wage bill. To send and receive between Ksh482 ($5.7) and Ksh964 ($11.4) on M-Pesa, Kenyans now pay Ksh58 ($0.69), up from Ksh53 ($0.63). Sending charges are Ksh31 ($0.37), up from Ksh29 ($0.34) while to receive the money, one pays Ksh26 ($0.31) up from Ksh22 ($0.26).

The Ksh139 billion ($1.64) billion transacted in February when the new tariffs were effected, however, indicated that the charges have not deterred use of mobile money services in the country.

Most users have complained about the high tariffs, which only Safaricom out of three other companies has affected. Other telecoms offering mobile money services in the country are Airtel, Yu and Orange. In January, Kenyans made mobile money transactions worth Ksh140 billion ($1.66 billion). The January transactions were, however, a drop from last December’s Ksh145 billion ($1.72 billion), the highest ever in the history of the platform in Kenya.

During the period under review, the CBK data further indicates that the number of mobile money users in Kenya hit 21.8 million, a rise from January’s 21.4 million. In 2012, Kenyans closed the year with the number of mobile money users standing at 21.1 million.

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