Thursday, February 29, 2024

Safaricom, Banks defy High Court; continue charging money transfer fees

Telecommunications firm Safaricom and local banks under the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) have defied a High Court order that required them to stop bank to M-Pesa money transfer charges.

 For example, a quick check on cash transfer on Monday morning showed that Equity Bank was charging Sh. 26 to transfer Sh. 2,000 from an account to M-Pesa, Sh. 64 to transfer Sh. 6,000 and Sh. 76 to transfer Sh. 10,000.

‘Risky’ Equity Bank borrowers to pay 21 percent interest

A report that appeared in a local daily said that the order blocking the charges was issued on December 19. However, the CBK has defied it and allowed Safaricom and all local banks to continue with the charges.

The charges had been stopped in 2020 by former president Uhuru Kenyatta. However, weeks after assuming presidency, the government of President William Ruto announced that the charges would be brought back effective January 2, 2023.

The order by the High Court was issued after a Kenyan who was identified as Moses Wafula filed an application in protest.

Wafula had argued that should the court find that the M-Pesa charges are illegal, more funds from members of the public will have been lost and it may be difficult to ask local banks to refund them.

“The petition pending determination illustrates that the engagement between Safaricom and its Mpesa Paybill clients is a bipartite business engagement between Safaricom as the M-Pesa paybill service provider and their M-Pesa paybill primary clients being the service recipients,” Wafula told the High Court.

Wafula told the court that his rights and the rights of other Kenyans have been violated, infringed and continues to be threatened by Safaricom and the government through the transfer charges.

He said that the charges incurred in transaction services should be paid by Safaricom’s primary clients such as banks and not by consumers.

Wafula’s case will now be mentioned on January 23, 2023.

The order had come as a relief for millions of Kenyans who have been protesting the heavy fees that have banks have slapped on the transfers.

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