Pesa Link moves Sh8bn in the first five months

Wednesday August 16 2017

Ms Jennifer Theuri, the IPSL chief executive, with Kenya Bankers Association’s Habil Olaka (right) and vice-chairman of the lobby John Gachora at a past event. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Ms Jennifer Theuri, the IPSL chief executive, with Kenya Bankers Association’s Habil Olaka (right) and vice-chairman of the lobby John Gachora at a past event. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

By BRIAN NGUGI
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The interbank money transfer platform Pesa Link launched last February transacted Sh8 billion in the five months to August 4.

The platform is offered by Integrated Payment Services Ltd (IPSL), a fully-owned subsidiary of Kenya Bankers Association (KBA), and can handle person-to-person transfers from as low as Sh10 to a high of Sh999,999.

According to Jennifer Theuri, CEO of IPSL, the platform’s subscriber base has continued to grow with the number of banks adopting it rising to 28, with other unnamed banks lining up to join.

“The PesaLink platform has continued to enjoy operational success. More banks have received regulatory approval from the Central Bank of Kenya,” she said in interview. “In the five months since the switch went live in February, the channel pushed transactions valued at Sh8 billion slightly above our half year Sh7 billion target.”

PesaLink was expected to rival telcos’ mobile money service currently dominated by Safaricom’s M-Pesa.  KBA manages the switch and facilitates direct transfers without going through intermediaries such as M-Pesa, Airtel Money and Orange Money.

While the initial phase of the project involved person-to-person money transfers, the second phase will include businesses and establish partnerships with government agencies, mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) and other players in the mobile money transfer subsector.

According to Ms Theuri, IPSL will be on-boarding licensed microfinance institutions (MFIs) in the coming weeks. The platform has also been deployed for the mobile-based bond M-Akiba.

“We have made significant headway on the development of a person-to-business (P2B) and a social payment platform. As recently evidenced by our involvement in M-Akiba, we have tested the P2B solution commonly known as pay bill numbers,” she said.

The participating banks include ABC Bank, Bank of Africa, Barclays Bank, CBA, Consolidated Bank, Cooperative Bank, Credit Bank Ltd, DTB, Equity Bank, Family Bank, First Community Bank, Guardian Bank, Gulf African Bank, GT bank, I&M, Jamii Bora Bank, KCB Bank, KWFT Bank, Middle East Bank, National bank, NIC Bank, Paramount Bank, Prime Bank, StanChart, Sidian Bank, Spire Bank, Stanbic Bank and Victoria Bank. 

Pesa Link has no charges on transactions of up to Sh500, while transaction fees on values above Sh500 are a flat rate Sh11 per transaction. 

Banks conceived Pesa Link in 2012 when they realised they were losing about Sh2.3 billion to telcos through mobile money transfer services.

Payments from Sh1 million and above are effected through the electronic real-time bank transfer system.

Mobile operator Safaricom’s person-to-person money transfers on the M-Pesa platform were worth Sh389.09 billion during the three-month to September 2016, according to data from the Communications Authority of Kenya.

Equity Bank’s Equitel mobile transactions were at Sh80.78 billion, and Airtel Money at Sh4.57 billion.