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CBK seeks tighter control of mobile money transfers

Customers at an M-Pesa service outlet in Nairobi. Photo/FILE
Customers at an M-Pesa service outlet in Nairobi. Photo/FILE 

The Central Bank of Kenya is working on regulations that will enable it to begin auditing and monitoring the mobile money transfer systems as it moves to implement the National Payments Systems (NPS) Act.

Safaricom’s M-Pesa is the largest such platform having moved Sh116.6 billion last December alone.

Stephen Mwaura, the head of national payments at CBK, said the regulator has prepared the regulations which will be handed to the Attorney-General for gazettement in a move likely to bring more scrutiny to the increasingly influential system.

The NPS Act which came to force last November, among other things gives the CBK an oversight authority to monitor safety and security of existing payments and settlement systems including Automated Teller Machines, credit cards and mobile money transfer platforms.

“The CBK Act section 4A 1(a) gives us the power to formulate such policies to regulate and supervise for efficient and effective payment clearing and settlement systems,” said Mr Mwaura in an interview with Business Daily on the sidelines of the mobile money research conference at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies on Monday.

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He said the regulations are meant for the national payments providers such Safaricom, Airtel and Tangaza money and boost their system integrity which is one of the key levers for the success of the mobile money transfer in Kenya.

But he declined to provide more details on the new regulations or when the industry operators should expect them.

This came as the Information Permanent secretary Bitange Ndemo said the mobile money transfer platforms could easily fall victim to the ongoing cyberspace crime if left unchecked. The PS said the mobile money transfer has evolved from mere sending of money from one individual to another with corporates and government adopting it for bill payments or commerce which calls for a more secure system.

Reliable systems
“Mobile penetration in Kenya has risen to an impressive 70 per cent. We now want to start providing services in public offices through mobile platforms.

This will help us to curb cases of corruption since all transactions will be easily traceable,” he said.

Speaking at the conference, Prof Tavneet Suri from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, however advised the government to ensure that it had a reliable backroom system before going online.

“Kenyans are now able to pay for their utilities through mobile platforms as a result of players in the private sector investing in reliable systems,” said Prof Suri.

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