Category Archives: M-Pesa

Safaricom’s Pochi

During Safaricom’s 20th anniversary celebrations last week, the company announced the launch of a new M-Pesa business product called launched “Pochi la Biashara” as part of a commitment to support micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

This comes shortly after they rolled out a new app for business payments (Lipa Na Mpesa app) and which had racked up 240,000 enterprises in a few months. What’s different about the new business pouch (Pochi) product? It’s targeted at informal business people, such as some food vendors, kiosk owners, and boda boda (motorcycle) operators who are not formally registered as businesses.

  • No loss of Fuliza repayment: Sometimes  people with Fuliza loans (a useful instant temporary overdraft on their phones that are replenished by the next infusion of cash) can sometimes find the service an inconvenience, as they may have an urgent or immediate use for an incoming payment – so to get around this, they ask for the money to be sent to a different phone number. Pochi eliminates this need to juggle two phone lines, as business payments do not go to replenish Fuliza – and borrowers can later repay these at a more convenient time.
  • Anonymity: For customers wary about their telephone numbers being misused when they pay via M-Pesa, a phone number is not visible when they make a payment to Pochi. This has become a pet peeve as they sometimes have their numbers harvested and they later get advertising messages or even face personal harassment. To pay to Pochi, they dial *334#.
  • Simple sign up for business owners. There’s no paperwork and they do not incur charges as they receive payments. 
  • No reversals of payments without the business owner’s permission.

So one can now buy from a roadside hawker or at a highway market on the way to Nakuru without worrying that their M-Pesa details (name and phone number) will be used to pester them

Likewise, the vendor has no worry that someone who buys food or curios from them will try and reverse the payment as soon as they drive off.

Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa also said the company is going through a competitive process to enter Ethiopia as they plan to make M-Pesa, which now processes 21 million transactions a day, the financial service platform for Africa.

M-Pesa App eases cash management and reporting for SMEs

In June 2020, Safaricom launched a new app for business owners that is a serious tool that enables them to do true real-time cash management, accounting and business banking on their mobile phones.  

Perfectly timed during the Coronavirus when businesses are moving shopping online, and paying more with M-Pesa over cash, the new Lipa Na M-PESA Business App allows business people to set up and manage multiple tills at different locations, keep track of cash and integrate payments from different tills.

By using the app, business owners get immediate updates on sales and receipts, giving them visibility of how different stores are performing and should reduce pilferage and leakage from cash sales handled by employees at different locations.

Payments collected through mobile money can be used to settle supplier bills, pay daily casual salaries or be sent to the bank, all using the app. A big plus is that businesses can obtain instants overdrafts to complete crucial payments, and this follows in the runaway success of “Fuliza”.

Crucially the Lipa Na M-PESA Business App creates a digital data trail, marries accounting and banking as they can now export their periodic statements to other systems like Excel or an accounting system for easier and faster reconciliation. This is expected to ease the record-keeping and payment efficiency of business owners, 170,000 of who currently use Lipa Na Mpesa and who can receive payment from 24 million M-PESA users across the country. 

Business owners can apply online for the new M-PESA business till numbers or to add to their existing ones. The requirements asked for from different entities, from sole proprietors to partnerships, companies and churches, are listed on the site. Decisions on applications will be made within 24 hours of providing all documentation, with new till numbers provided to successful applicants. Other status decisions such as pending, or rejected, with reasons given, will also be in the same period.

The Lipa Na M-PESA Business App is now available in the Google Android store and on USSD (*234#), while the iOS version will be out later.

Safaricom 2020 results with CEO transition

Safaricom PLC announced its financial results at a unique event, streamed online, that featured its incoming and outgoing CEO’s.

Overall revenue grew 5% to Kshs 251 billion as M-Pesa revenue grew 12% to Kshs 84 billion with mobile data growing 12% to Kshs 40 billion. Voice and SMS revenue declined. Profit before tax increased to Kshs 105.77 billion up 17% from the previous year, and the company will pay out Kshs 56 billion as dividends to shareholders, up from 50 billion in 2019.

The firm’s Chairman Nicholas Ng’angá welcomed the new CEO Peter Ndegwa who has been in office for a few weeks now and thanked Michael Joseph who had been appointed interim CEO following the demise of Bob Collymore in July 2019.

Ng’angá asked that the country’s regulatory period, after Coronavirus, be designed to support the revival of businesses, not one that increases taxes for consumers and businesses, noting that the company had paid Kshs 111 billion in taxes and fees to the government during 2019.

Michael Joseph said that in his second stint as CEO they had simplified offers to customers and mobile data had double-digit growth while gaining market and increasing data revenue. Safaricom and Vodacom have acquired the M-Pesa brand from Vodafone and will roll out M-Pesa across Africa with new products and lower costs. Safaricom is also pursuing one of the new licenses in Ethiopia.

Sateesh Kamath, the Chief Financial Officer, said the results were adjusted for the one off-gain of acquiring M-Pesa and that service revenue still grew in the year, despite the decline of the sports betting and the reduction of tariffs the company had undertaken to support consumers during Coronavirus. He said that they plan to introduce more use cases to cannibalise M-Pesa “withdrawal” revenue and instead grow customer e-balances in the long run, while Joseph said that they plan to roll out a unit-trust investment product.

Peter Ndegwa, the incoming CEO, announced that the company would roll out a device financing offer to enable Kenyans to access 4G smartphones, with affordable data, by paying as little as Kshs 20 per day. He concluded by saying that Coronavirus made it impossible for the company to provide forward guidance on earnings and capital expenditure for 2021 and that they would do that at a later date.

Cashless pushes around Africa

Nigeria: The Central Bank of Nigeria set a tariff of 3% for deposits and 2% for withdrawals of  more than Naira 500,000 (equivalent to ~$1,380) from individual accounts. They also set a tariff of 5% for withdrawals from corporate accounts, and 3% for deposits, over Naira 3 Million (equivalent to ~$8,280) from corporate accounts. This is in the states of Lagos, Ogun, Kano, Abia, Anambra, and Rivers States as well as the Federal Capital Territory. This is to promote cashless transactions. (Source)

Uganda: The Bank of Uganda has banned merchants from imposing surcharges for the use of electronic card payments and also the setting of minimum and maxim amounts that can be transacted on cars. In addition, they have asked banks in Uganda to harmonize tariffs that they levy on customers of banks for when they use each other’s ATM’s.

Kenya: Today is the deadline set by Kenya’s Central Bank after which the old series of the Kshs 1,000 (~$10 notes), bearing the image of the first President of Kenya, will cease to become legal  tender for transacting in the country.

Tanzania: Mobile app lender Tala suspended issuing loans in Tanzania. The company which claims to have lent over $1 billion to 4 million individuals will continue in Kenya which they say, with 3 million customers, is a critical part of their global business, and where they are piloting new financial education services. California-headquartered Tala also has customers in The Philippines, Mexico and India, and is backed by investors like PayPal, IVP, and Revolution Growth.

Zimbabwe: The Cashless push has gone awry in Zimbabwe where the Government has now banned Ecocash agents from making cash deposits and withdrawals for customers as these are now happening at values that are at variance. This has resulted in a situation where $1 in cash is worth ~$1.50 in digital money. 

KCB relaunches M-Pesa loans with zero interest options

KCB has relaunched KCB M-Pesa loans, small value short-term loan product, with zero interest option along with allowing customers to top-up to their current outstanding loans and roll over loans past the one month.

KCB M-Pesa was launched back in March 2015 in partnership with Safaricom, and they are available from the Safaricom SIM toolkit.  The re-launch came after the migration of the service on to a new platform in partnership with Huawei that will process transactions faster and which is more stable.

KCB CEO Joshua Oigara said that the bank was disbursing Kshs 7 billion worth of loans through mobile, an amount that used to be disbursed over six months at their traditional branches. He announced that the platform improved would bring three new changes to the loan product namely; automatic roll forward of loans if a customer was not able to repay in thirty days, customers could not top-up loan until they reach their credit limits(previously they had to repay an existing loan, in order to qualify for a new ones) and customers will pay zero percent (0%) loan interest if they repay loans on the same day. The zero interest loan offer runs from December 18, 2018, to 17 January 2019 and during this period, customers will be able to enjoy one interest-free loan per week as long as the loan is repaid by midnight of the same day.

Also present at the launch were CEO of Safaricom, Bob Collymore, and Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for ICT, Joe Mucheru.