Kenya - M-Pesa transactions over Sh300,000 to be checked

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

The Central Bank is proposing to start investigating all mobile money transfer services above Sh300, 000 a week, a move that may see business people affected for fear of unnecessary interference.

This is less by three times the current maximum allowable limit of Sh980, 000 on services such as Mpesa, Airtel Money, Orange Money and Yu Cash.

CBK says the decision will help to fight money laundering and stop the risk of terrorism financing. Any account exceeding a daily turnover of Sh100,000 will also be investigated, says the Mobile money Anti-Money Laundering Guidelines published by the CBK this week.

Users of Mpesa, the most popular mobile money service used in the country are going to be affected most. Currently, an Mpesa user can send up to Sh140, 000 daily but split the amount into two.

If the new rules are effected this could mean that an M-pesa user is only safely allowed to send Sh42,857 per day, a move that will greatly incovenience most businessmen in the informal sector who rely on the system to send and receive cash for services and goods. Any amount above that may be subject to investigations.

Safaricom spokesman Nzioka Waita said it is too early to comment saying the operator will provide its thoughts to the CBK. Orange Money users will also be hit hard. The operator runs a bulk payments service that enables funds transfer tool that facilitates disbursement of funds to multiple recipients.

The service is currently used for salary processing, payment of allowances for field staff, loan disbursement, employee benefits, refunds to customers, supplier payments, etc.

Funds are transferred in real time from an organisation's account directly to registered Orange Money recipients or to Equity Bank accounts.

Critics of the new rules say the CBK could be bending to pressure from commercial banks who have lost massive transaction income since most people prefer to user the mobile money services instead of going to the bank.