Kenya Banks launch PesaLink to rival M-Pesa. It might not work as planned.

PesaLink
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A few days ago the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) unveiled PesaLink.

It has been called a revolutionary product that is gearing up to be M-Pesa’s biggest competitor.

PesaLink allows for inter-bank transfer in real time. And you can transact from as little as Ksh. 10 to as much as Ksh. 999,999, with the promise of very low transaction costs.

There were 12 banks on board during launch and KBA said they expected all banks to be on board in 30 days.

It might sound complex or confusing to understand PesaLink at first. But it is, in the simplest of explanations I could think of, a way of using your Bank accounts the way you use your M-Pesa; to easily send and receive money in real time.

Signing Up:

From what I’ve seen on their website, there’s no signing up for us as customers. As long as your bank is already signed up for PesaLink, I believe, you can access the service from your phone, ATM etc.

Say you normally access your bank account on a smartphone for example Equity on *247# or KCB on *522#, from what I understand, you should find PesaLink somewhere on the Menu now. From there you can send money to friends’ phones, their bank accounts, cards etc.

This is good. I doubt any serious M-Pesa rival would come up with a service that requires users to sign up afresh. I think Kenyans are lazy and you have to bring it very close to them.

Account Number:

As your phone number is linked to your bank account, sending money to friends or family will only require them to have a bank account linked to their phone number. And they’ll receive cash instantly.

In future, PesaLink plans on one time passwords for those who don’t have bank accounts.

If you’re making payments or paying bills you can enter the account number and that will be done.

And that’s it with PesaLink.

M-Pesa?

First of all, is it better than M-Pesa? Yes, in some ways it is.

  • You can send more money. M-Pesa caps it at Ksh. 140,000. While PesaLink allows up to Ksh. 1 Million.
  • PesaLink connects you directly to your bank account making banking easy, smooth and exciting. M-Pesa on the other hand is an account tied to your phone number.
  • PesaLink also makes it easier for bigger loans and easier handling of large sums of money generally.
  • PesaLink promises lower transaction fees.

But can it beat M-Pesa:

I doubt. The bad thing that is also the good thing about M-Pesa is that it is tied to your phone number. I don’t know how to put it. Using PesaLink will be good for many who are big on banking and those who carry out big transactions. But for small transactions, and day-to-day interactions including small cashless payments for goods and services, M-Pesa will reign.

M-Pesa services like M-Shwari and Lipa na Mpesa are ingenious and hard to beat in the foreseeable future.

People might end up having PesaLink as another inter-bank service they use once in a while to send or receive huge amounts which they then transfer to their M-Pesa accounts for easier transactions, paying for bills and services, etc.

Banks and PesaLink:

I am interested in seeing how banks treat PesaLink. Banks that already have some sort of mobile banking platform of their own might not give PesaLink much attention. Other banks may have few of their customers using PesaLink to send yet receiving a lot from customers of another bank. There are funny dynamics to consider.

All in all, PesaLink is a nice initiative that is welcome.

Final thoughts: 

If the current forces succeeds in “breaking” Safaricom and making M-Pesa inter-operable, then PesaLink may as well count itself dead on arrival.