Category Archives: M-Pesa

Safaricom Governance Changes

Appearing in today’s newspaper was a notice for the Safaricom shareholders annual general meeting (AGM) that will take place on September 1. In addition to the usual shareholder resolutions, there are additional matters that will be approved, mainly relating to governance by at Safaricom. This all follows the buyout of UK’s Vodafone stake in Safaricom, by South African Vodacom in an internal Vodafone group corporate realignment earlier this year that has now been completed.  A running theme seems to be entrench Kenyan citizens in the governance and influence at what is now Kenya’s most valuable company.

Some of the changes:

  • The company Chairman shall be a Kenyan (this is now going to be mandatory and is spelled out in the company’s articles of association)
  • Directors shall encourage retention of a “Kenyan character” in the senior management and executive committees of Safaricom.
  • The articles are also changed to spell out that that independent non-executive directors of Safaricom, shall all be Kenyan citizens.
  • The position of Deputy Chairman is eliminated.
  • Directors appointed by Vodafone shall be excluded from voting on agreements relating to M-Pesa.
  • Directors appointed by Vodafone are to vote in the interest of the company (Safaricom) if its growth and investment decision clash with those of Vodafone.
  • Directors shall appoint the Managing Director Previously as indicated in documents from the Safaricom IPO, Vodafone directors had veto power over the appointment over approval of business plans, annual budgets, the appointment of the Managing Director (Chief Executive Officer) and appointment of the Financial Director (Chief Financial Officer). Now, the Safaricom articles will change to read that “75% directors must approve these provisions” including a new one of “any material change to the company brand”. Shareholders at the AGM will also approve a name change of the company to “Safaricom PLC” in compliance with Kenya’s new companies law for listed companies to be “PLC”

M-Akiba Reloaded: More government bonds via phone

On Friday the Treasury Cabinet Secretary launched the second tranche of M-Akiba, the government bonds that can be bought and traded via mobile phone. 

The first tranche of M-Akiba, worth Kshs 150 million was launched in March 2017, and marked at 10%, maturing in April 2020. They had their highest trading day on May 12 when about Kshs 345,000 was traded; usually, about Kshs 100,000 per day ($1,000) of M-Akiba are traded by investors so far. At the time of launch, the indication was that another Kshs 4.85 billion was to be raised in June 2017.

The new M-Akiba infrastructure bond issue (MAB2/2017/3) is targeting Kshs 1 billion (~$9.7 million), with a green shoe option to raise another Kshs 3.85 billion. These are also three-year infrastructure bonds (dated 24 July), paying 10% per annum, with interest paid every six months, and the minimum investment is, again, Kshs 3,000 (~$29). Payments for the new bonds will be done on mobile money such as M-pesa (by dialing *889#) as well as through Pesalink – a new service from Kenya banks that allows their customers to make payments via phone and mobile money transfers of up to Kshs 1 million  (~$9,700) per day – which is seven times greater than what they can do with mobile money, under current banking rules (set to prevent money-laundering). The deadline for investors to apply for the M-Akiba bond is July 21, and the trading commission for will be 0.1% of allocations.

EDIT (July 23 Nation): MAB2/2017/3 has been extended to 8th September and the bond will start trading on 12th September. It has been reported that investors bought Kshs 128 million before the initial deadline, and the newspaper notice of the extension mentions that these invests will be paid for interest earned between July 24 and 11th September.

‘Akiba’ means ‘savings’ in Swahili.
$1 = Ksh 103

Vodacom buys Vodafone Stake at Safaricom

Early this morning a surprising news story first appeared at Bloomberg about Vodacom buying shares at Safaricom. Early interpretations of the story had the Kenya government selling their entire 35% of their most valuable investment to Vodacom.

But later, the official statement from Vodafone (and Safaricom) confirmed that Vodafone was the one selling 35% of their shareholding to Vodacom. It includes a statement by Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore that the deal “promotes the continued successful expansion of the company as well as the opportunity to drive M-PESA to other markets in the continent.”

  • Safaricom had announced another record earnings year year, last week.
  • Will there be a rebrand to Vodacom? Safari com may be constrained by operating in Kenya. Vodacom just had an IPO in Tanzania whose outcome is pending and M-Pesa has had tremendous strides in Tanzania.
  •  Former Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph resigned from the Vodafone a month ago to concentrate on his role as Kenya Airways Chairman.
  • Vodafone will remain with 5% of Safaricom – down from 39.93%.

Simplifying M-Pesa Payments with 1Tap

As they announced their 2017 financial results today, Safaricom also unveiled 1Tap – the next step of innovation to drive increased financial inclusion in Keyna.

M-Pesa is ten years old and CEO Bob Collymore said that Safaricom was launching “Mpesa 1 tap”  which would reduce the number of steps to complete an M-Pesa transaction, currently about 8 steps on SMS and USSD, to just 1 step.

At the result announcement, the Safaricom CFO Sateesh Kamath said that while 75% of M-Pesa revenue was from traditional person to person transfers, 25% was new from new business like “Lipa na Mpesa” (pay with M-pesa) payments.

Buy Goods is free for customers, except at petrol stations which levy an additional charge, and just over a month ago, Safaricom announced a 50% tariff reduction for all Lipa Na M-PESA Buy Goods merchant fees – to 0.5% of the transaction amount. These were also was capped to Kshs 200 for any payments over Kshs 40,000 (~$400) while payments to merchants below Kshs 200 were made free. Lipa Na M-pesa is used by over 50,000 merchants and Safaricom plans to enable more kiosks, boda-bodas, newspaper vendors and other merchants who are in the informal sector where 80% of Kenyan work to receive such vital business payments at no cost.

Merchants can also get instant payments into their bank accounts at any of 23 partner banks (of the 40 banks in Kenya) from a Lipa Na M-pesa menu in their phones in just a few seconds – and this is useful as many of the merchants don’t have time to go to the bank to deposit cash.

With 1 Tap, all a customer needs to do is tap their cards on the mobile POS machines and then enter their secret M-Pesa PIN to confirm the transaction. Pilot testing for Mpesa 1 Tap has been ongoing in Nakuru where the service now has 13,000 customers and 900 merchants. Kenyans briefly got to see what NFC could work with the Beba Pay service a few years ago, with payments in public service vehicles.

EDIT  October 3 Following successful trials over the last four months in Nakuru, Safaricom announced the availability of M-PESA 1Tap in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Eldoret and Nyeri. ..M-PESA 1Tap will be available to all Lipa Na M-PESA merchants and customers and aims to make it faster and easier to make and receive cashless payments.

M-PESA 1Tap will be progressively rolled out to leading supermarkets, petrol stations, and restaurants…Some of the merchants where customers can now make payments with M-PESA 1Tap include Shell, Naivas, Choppies, KenolKobil, KFC, Oil Libya, Total and QuickMart. The merchant solution currently involves an NFC based reader integrated to merchants Lipa Na M-PESA tills.

Customers will initially have the option of obtaining an M-PESA 1Tap wristband, phone sticker or card which will allow payment integrations with M-PESA 1Tap merchant terminals. More convenient M-PESA 1Tap solutions are set to be rolled out in future. The tags are available from Safaricom shops and dealers from Ksh. 20.

Safaricom Exceeds Earnings Expectations, Powered by M-Pesa and Data

At their Nairobi headquarters today, Kenya communications company, Safaricom announced another record year with the release of the Safaricom 2017 results, which CEO Bob Collymore credited to a focus on customers, innovative products and improving operations.

The company reported revenue of Kshs 204 billion (~$2 billion), an increase of 15% from the year before, and an astounding EBITDA of Kshs 103 billion ($1 billion), up from 83 billion in 2016. M-Pesa growth was 33% to Kshs 55 billion as the number of active M-Pesa customers increased to 19 million – who do an average of 10 transactions a month. The number of customers also went up 12% to 28.1 million.

Later, their CFO said the results came even as customers enjoyed lower costs of voice calls, SMS and money payments. Under “M-Pesa” Kadogo, the company waived M-Pesa tariffs for payments below Kshs 100 ($1) in a push to drive financial inclusion and this led to an 88% growth in transactions in that band.

Chairman Nicholas Nganga said that “Sustaining this growth is key to the Board” as he announced that the contract of Bob Collymore had been extended for an additional two years. Collymore, in turn, said that at a time when several Kenyan companies were announcing job losses, Safaricom had added 500 new jobs during the year and would be adding another 270 mainly in customer care.

Going forward, Safaricom will be changing their earning outlook from projecting EBITDA to projecting EBIT (earnings before interest & taxes) – and for 2018 they project EBIT to be between Kshs 71 to 75 billion after capital expenditure of between Kshs 35 and 38 billion that will be spent in 2017/18.

Following the release of the Safaricom 2017 results, their shareholders will get a dividend of Kshs 0.97 per share, equal to 80% of the profit, is an increase of 27% from 2016 – excluding the one-time bonus dividend paid out last year. The payment will total Kshs 38.8 billion, and 35% of that goes to the Kenya government as the second largest shareholder after Vodafone.