Safaricom PLC has declared that as of February 5th, 2024, M-PESA users will no longer be able to send funds to unregistered mobile money users. This change marks the end of a longstanding capability within the M-PESA platform, which had allowed registered users to transfer money to those without an account, albeit at higher transaction costs.
Registered M-PESA customers, however, will retain the ability to send and receive money across various mobile money providers, including competitors such as Airtel Money and T-Kash. This move suggests an increasing emphasis on interoperability within the mobile money sector in Kenya.
In light of these changes, Safaricom is urging all current unregistered users of mobile money services to formalise their status by registering at any Safaricom Shop or M-PESA agent with a valid identity document. This push for registration may streamline the user experience and enhance security measures on the M-PESA platform.
The immediate implications for ordinary businesses and the potential revision of rates for money transfers between M-PESA and other services such as Airtel Money or Telkom’s T-Kash remain unclear. This announcement has not been accompanied by any details regarding adjustments to the existing tariff structures.
Notably, this policy update arrives amidst a backdrop of recent, frequent, and as yet unexplained service outages within the M-PESA system. These disruptions have raised concerns among the platform’s user base, which relies heavily on M-PESA for daily transactions and financial activities.
As the dominant mobile money service provider in Kenya, M-PESA’s decision to alter its service in such a fundamental way is significant and could signal a shift in the mobile money landscape in the region. With over a decade of operation and a substantial user base, the ramifications of this policy change will be closely watched by industry observers, customers, and competitors alike.
How this policy change will play out in the Kenyan market and what it means for the future of mobile money transactions is yet to be seen.