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Central Bank Directive Streamlines “Send Money” to All Networks, Ends Unregistered Transfers

Last week, Safaricom announced that its M-Pesa customers would no longer be able to send money to unregistered phone numbers, providing limited information about the reasons for this change. However, it has now been clarified that this decision was taken in line with the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) and other industry players’ efforts to facilitate seamless mobile money interoperability, as stipulated in the CBK’s National Payments Strategy for 2022-2025.

Previously, sending money from M-Pesa to either Airtel or Telkom customers, or to an unregistered M-Pesa number, required the recipient to visit an M-Pesa agent within seven days with a special code to collect their cash. Although it was possible to transfer funds to Airtel Money or T-Kash accounts without necessitating withdrawal, a direct “Send Money” action to a phone number generated a withdrawal code. To execute a direct transfer to their mobile money account, users had to select a hidden “Send to Other Network”. This restriction has been removed under the new policy, enhancing mobile money interoperability and eliminating the need for transactions with unregistered accounts.

The National Payments Strategy mandates all mobile money services to offer a seamless experience across all access channels—SIM Menu, USSD Menu, and mobile applications—to enable direct transactions both within and across networks. This approach aims to create a secure, swift, and efficient payments ecosystem that promotes financial inclusion, innovation, and benefits for Kenyan users.

Following these updates, customers on any mobile money platform can now directly transfer funds to the recipient’s wallet for any amount, ranging from as low as KES 1 to a maximum of KES 250,000 per transaction each day.

When sending money, users utilising the SIM Menu, USSD Menu *334#, or their mobile application will now simply choose ‘Send Money‘ to any network, input the recipient’s number, and complete the transaction, which will be instantly credited to the recipient’s wallet, eliminating the need for a withdrawal code.

Commenting on this advancement, Airtel Money’s Managing Director, Anne Kinuthia-Otieno, welcomed the streamlined process supported by the Central Bank, highlighting it as a significant benefit for Kenyans. She emphasized that customers would now enjoy a seamless and cost-effective experience when transferring funds across networks, irrespective of the channel used. She noted that the ability to perform seamless, direct wallet-to-wallet transfers is a major advantage for Kenyan consumers, reflecting a commitment to customer-centricity, industry growth, and innovation. Kinuthia-Otieno further stated that Airtel Money is dedicated to offering the most affordable and customer-friendly services, including free money transfers between Airtel accounts, waived transaction fees for Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) payments, and instant reimbursement of cash-out fees as airtime, among other benefits for their valued customers.

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