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Safaricom complies with CAK order on M-Pesa fees disclosure

Safaricom House in Westlands, Nairobi. PHOTO | FILE
Safaricom House in Westlands, Nairobi. PHOTO | FILE 

Safaricom has started notifying M-Pesa users transaction costs charged for cash transfers and bill payments in compliance with a Competition Authority of Kenya directive.

The company yesterday began disclosing M-Pesa fees after the completion of transactions. Customers who use M-Pesa to pay a bill or transfer cash are now informed of the fees associated with the transaction in an SMS.

Safaricom is complying with a directive issued by the CAK last year. Ultimately, customers are supposed to receive warnings on how much a transaction will cost before they confirm the payment. The telco says this real-time notification system will be implemented in upcoming phases of the project.

“In the second phase, customers will receive a pop up message informing them of any charges prior to the transactions,” said the company in a statement.

The final phase will see Safaricom effect changes to its system so that users of value-added services such as M-Shwari and M-Tiba can receive similar notifications. The changes will have to be done by the end of May, the deadline set by the CAK.

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The anti-trust watchdog last year ordered financial institutions and telcos providing mobile money services to begin disclosing fees associated with such services to customers. The order was meant to remedy the opacity that surrounded such fees. Customers who wanted to find out the cost of transactions often had to rely on posters at agency shops, the Internet or simply calculate backwards based on their mobile money account balances. Safaricom now becomes the second telecom firm, after Airtel, to begin making the disclosures.

Safaricom notifies customers of the cost through an SMS after the transaction has been completed.

Dominate market

The CAK last week told the Business Daily that only eight firms had thus far complied with the order. Among Kenya’s seven first tier banks, only Co-operative Bank was making the disclosures as required.

Kenyans moved Sh2.46 trillion through mobile money in the nine months to September 2016, a testament to the massive growth experienced in a technology that was introduced to the country a decade ago.

Banks are trying to grab a bigger chunk of this business with a pilot of their own mobile money platform.

However, M-Pesa continues to dominate the market in terms of customer share and transaction figures. The government has, therefore, been trying to increase transparency and competition in the sector.

The CAK in 2015 ordered Safaricom to make public charges for its Lipa na M-Pesa service after it emerged that some petrol stations were levying irregular charges on customers. Regulations that will accompany the new ICT Policy document are also supposed to allow for increased levels of mobile money inter-operability across the networks in a move that is meant to exert downward pressure on prices. 

A study being carried out by the Communications Authority of Kenya on the telecom market may also have implications on how Safaricom runs its M-Pesa business.

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