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What Is M-Pesa?

MPESA Mobile Money
MPESA Mobile Money

M-Pesa is a mobile phone-based money transfer service, payments and micro-financing service, launched in 2007 by Vodafone and Safaricom, the largest mobile network operator in Kenya. It has since expanded to Tanzania, Mozambique, DRC, Lesotho, Ghana, Egypt, Afghanistan, and South Africa.

M-Pesa is a mobile banking service that allows users to store and transfer money through their mobile phones. M-Pesa was introduced in Kenya as an alternative way for the population of the country to have access to financial services. Safaricom, the largest mobile phone operator in Kenya, launched M-Pesa in 2007. The service is a blend of two entities where M means mobile and Pesa means money or payment in the Swahili language.

One of the drives for Fintech innovations, like M-Pesa, is financial inclusion, which is mostly geared toward an underbanked or unbanked group of people. Financial inclusion is an initiative that seeks to include residents who have no access to banks or who can’t afford the required minimum deposits in the digital banking era. In order for this initiative to succeed, different sectors must collaborate in sharing data with each other and build a meaningful digital platform.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • M-Pesa is one of the innovative tools that have been birthed from the collaboration of telecommunication and banking sectors in East Africa.
  • M-Pesa began in Kenya and is being utilized in 10 countries, including India and Romania. 
  • Emergent technology in the financial sector, or Fintech, has made it possible for financial services and products, like M-Pesa, to be more accessible at small costs.
  • M-Pesa makes it possible for unbanked people to pay for and receive goods and services using a mobile phone instead of utilizing a brick-and-mortar bank.

This cross-communication tactic used by M-Pesa is developing rapidly in sub-Saharan Africa, where the telecommunication and banking sectors are working together to create mobile banking services for those with limited access to traditional banking.

Understanding M-Pesa

M-Pesa is a virtual banking system that provides transaction services through a SIM card. Once the SIM has been inserted into the card slot of the mobile device, users can make payments and transfer money to vendors and family members with SMS messages.

Users with no bank accounts can access the numerous M-Pesa outlets distributed across the country. The money that needs to be stored is given to the kiosk attendant, who transfers the amount in digital form to the user’s M-Pesa’s account.

Cash collected from M-Pesa is deposited in bank accounts held by Safaricom. The bank accounts serve as regular checking accounts and are insured up to a maximum of 100,000 shillings (or $1000) by the Deposit Protection Fund.

M-Pesa provides receipts as proof of transaction. For a transaction to take place, both parties have to exchange each other’s phone numbers because the phone numbers act as account numbers. After settlement, both parties receive an SMS notification with the full name of the counterparty and the amount of funds deposited or withdrawn from the user’s account. The mobile receipt, which is received within seconds, helps to promote transparency for all individuals involved in a transaction.

An Example of M-Pesa

A farmer has no bank account and wants to deposit his commodity sale proceeds of 1,000 shillings goes to an M-Pesa outlet and deposits the money with the kiosk agent or attendant. The agent, in turn, uses her phone to access the client’s account with the client’s registered phone number and credit the account for 1,000 shillings.

The farmer gets an SMS notification on his cellphone within seconds of the deposit, confirming how much was deposited and what his current account balance holds. The farmer can also easily withdraw cash from his account by using the M-Pesa attendant’s or agent’s number provided at the outlet and a personal PIN.

Special Considerations

Through mobile payment services like M-Pesa, the standard of living in Kenya has improved greatly. Market traders, debt collectors, farmers, and cab drivers don’t need to carry around or transact in a large amount of cash. This means that the occurrence of theft, robbery, and fraud is reduced. Also, individuals and business owners don’t have to wait in long lines for hours to make their electricity and water bill payments because these can be made using M-Pesa.

Using M-Pesa allows small business owners in remote and rural areas to conduct financial transactions safely and easily via their mobile phones.

To combat fraud, Safaricom mandates that users of a Safaricom SIM card who want to register for M-Pesa have to do so with a valid government ID such as the Kenyan national identification card or a passport. This way, each transaction is marked with the identification of the party transferring, paying, depositing, or withdrawing money from an account.

Mobile money is increasingly being adopted in developing nations where a high percentage of the population has little or no access to traditional banking. Revolutionary services like Paga, MTN Mobile Money, Airtel Money, and Orange Money are disrupting the traditional payment systems used frequently by residents of emerging nations, by changing the economy from a cash society to a digital one.

How to Use M-PESA on the Safaricom App Kenya

Checking your M-PESA balance

  1. Select “Show balance” on the Safaricom App or select Check Balance on M-PESA menu in your Safaricom sim tool kit.
  2. Enter your secret PIN
  3. Wait for SMS confirmation message with your balance

Depositing cash to your account

  1. Go to an authorized M-PESA agent with your phone and original ID
  2. Inform the agent how much you wish to deposit
  3. They will use their agent phone to send you e-money in exchange for cash
  4. You and your agent will receive an SMS from M-PESA confirming the transaction

You could also top up your M-PESA account from your bank account.

Sending money

You can send money or transfer money to mobile numbers of both registered and unregistered users. To send money, you must have e-value in your M-PESA account.

Send money can be accessed via various channels as listed below:

  1. STK (Sim Tool kit)
  2. M-PESA Super App
  3. Safaricom App
  4. USSD *334#

 1. Send Money via STK (Sim Tool Kit)

To send money from STK (Sim Tool Kit) Customers will:

  • Select M-PESA
  • Send Money
  • Enter Phone No.
  • Enter Amount
  • Enter M-PESA PIN
  • You will receive a message that prompts you to confirm on the mobile number and the amount you are to send.
  • A message will pop up with Cancel or Ok.  You can Cancel if you notice that the number entered is not correct or select Ok if the details are correct.
  • Another message will pop up with the name of the person you were sending money to, the amount the person will receive and the cost of the transaction.
  • You can either select 1 to Accept (if the details given are correct) or select 2 to Cancel (if you notice an error in the transaction).

2. Send Money via M-PESA Super App

Download the M-PESA supper App from Apple store or Google play store

Please note; when you sign in for the first time, you will be required to turn on your mobile data to ensure a secure log in. Thereafter, you will sign in using Wi-Fi or mobile data connection.

  • Accept the terms and conditions
  • Enter a valid M-PESA PIN for authentication

Thereafter, to successfully log in you will need to:

  • Type in your valid M-PESA PIN for authentication
  • Register your fingerprints or facial recognition to use in authenticating the transactions (For customers whose handsets have biometric features)

To send money from the M-PESA SUPPER APP customers will:

  • Open the M-PESA App
  • On the home tab select send and request
  • Select send money
  • Enter phone number or select the number from your contacts
  • Enter amount
  • Complete the transaction using M-PESA PIN or biometric authentication.
  • You will receive an SMS confirmation that funds have been sent from your M-PESA Account

3. Send Money via Safaricom APP

Customers will need to download the Safaricom App from Apple store or google play store

Please Note; when you sign in for the first time, you will be required to turn on your mobile data to ensure a secure log in. Thereafter, you will sign in using Wi-Fi or mobile data connection.

  • Accept the terms and conditions
  • Enter a valid M-PESA PIN for authentication

Thereafter, to successfully log in you will need to:

  • Type in your valid M-PESA PIN for authentication

To send money from Safaricom App customers will:

  • Launch my Safaricom app
  • Select send money
  • Enter phone number or select number from your contacts
  • Enter amount
  • You will receive a prompt message that asks if you can proceed with the PIN transaction>select send
  • Complete the transaction using M-PESA PIN or biometric authentication.
  • You will receive an SMS confirmation that funds have been sent from your M-PESA Account.

 4. Send Money via USSD

  • Dial *334#
  • Select send money
  • Enter phone number
  • Enter amount
  • Enter M-PESA PIN
  • You will receive a message that prompts you to accept or cancel
  • Accept, and the transaction goes through.

Withdraw Funds

Withdraw funds is a service that allows a user to access hard cash from the funds held in their M-PESA wallet or funds received as “give cash” from an unregistered M-PESA Agent. Registered and unregistered users have access to withdrawal services. One can withdraw in two ways.

  • At any Mobile Money Agent.
  • At an ATM.

Registered M-PESA customers can withdraw money using any of these channels:

  1. STK (Sim Tool Kit)
  2. M-PESA Super App
  3. My Safaricom App
  4. USSD *334#
  5. Automated Teller Machine (ATM)

Withdrawal at an M-PESA Agent: For a Registered User

Walk to the nearest M-PESA Agent and enquire with the agent if they have enough funds for your transaction.

1. Withdrawal via STK

  • Select M-PESA
  • Select withdraw cash
  • Select from agent>>Enter agent number which is displayed at the agent’s shop
  • Enter the amount you wish to withdraw
  • Confirm to accept transaction details
  • You and the agent will receive an SMS confirming the transaction. The agent will give you the cash.

2. Withdraw on M-PESA Super App

  • Launch the M-PESA Super App
  • On the home screen, Select withdraw
  • Select withdraw at agent>>Enter agent number which is displayed at the agent’s shop
  • Enter the amount you wish to withdraw
  • Confirm and accept transaction details
  • You and the agent will receive an SMS confirming the transaction

3. Withdraw on My Safaricom App

  • Launch the M-PESA My Safaricom app
  • On the M-PESA tab, Select withdraw cash
  • Select from agent>>Enter agent number which is displayed at the agent’s shop
  • Enter the amount you wish to withdraw
  • Confirm and accept transaction details

 4. Withdrawal via USSD

  • Dial *334#
  • Select withdraw cash
  • Select withdraw from agent>>Enter agent number which is displayed at the agent’s shop
  • Enter the amount you wish to withdraw
  • Confirm and accept transaction details
  • You and the agent will receive an SMS confirming the transaction

 ATM Withdrawal Service

This service is available to M-PESA registered users who wish to withdraw funds from their phone at the Bank’s Automated Teller Machine (ATM).  To withdraw, there is a two-step process that customers will follow i.e.:

The phone process

On your phone, either via STK (Sim Toolkit), USSD (*334#), My Safaricom App or M-PESA Super App.

  • Select withdraw from ATM
  • Enter ATM number >>Enter your M-PESA PIN

You will receive SMS notification from M-PESA with a 6-digit authorization code

Note: The code expires after 10 minutes, and you will be expected to initiate the transaction afresh if you wish to withdraw money again.

 The ATM process:

  • Select the M-PESA button on the ATM
  • Select your preferred language
  • Enter the 6-digit ATM Authorization code on the ATM Keyboard
  • Enter your Safaricom mobile number
  • Enter the amount you wish to withdraw; press continue to proceed with transaction
  • The ATM will dispense your cash and issue you with a receipt. You will also receive an SMS from M-PESA confirming the transaction.

 Withdrawal at M-PESA Agent; For an Unregistered Customer

When you send money to an unregistered customer, they will receive a one-time voucher from M-PESA with a 4-digit code which they will use to withdraw money from an M-PESA Agent. In case this SMS is not received or accidentally deleted, the receiver can call line 234 and request for the voucher to be re-sent.

Below are the steps Unregistered Customers will need to follow to access the hard cash:

  • Go to an M-PESA Agent.
  • Confirm if the Agent has enough funds for your transaction.
  • Present the SMS containing the M-PESA Voucher Number
  • Give your phone number and show the original ID.
  • Both the Agent and the customer will receive an SMS confirming their transaction.
  • The Agent will give you cash of the equivalent value shown in the Voucher.

M-PESA statements on E-Mail

Receive your monthly M-PESA statements easily and conveniently by the 5th of every month.

  1. Dial *234# from your mobile phone to access the menu
  2. Select ‘My M-PESA Information’, then ‘M-PESA Statement’
  3. Select ‘Full Statement’
  4. Register with your National ID or document of registration number
  5. Enter and confirm your email

You will get a message confirming that you have registered for the service.

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If you have any comment regarding this article contact us at contact@ethiopianstoday.com

By Chala Dandessa

I am Lecturer, Researcher and Freelancer. I am the founder and Editor at ETHIOPIANS TODAY website. If you have any comment use caalaadd2@gmail.com as email contact. Additionally you can contact us through the contact page of www.ethiopianstoday.com.

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