The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has given six banks the green light to launch a mobile money transfer platform, heralding a new dawn in the highly competitive and lucrative financial services market segment.
The Kenya Interbank Transaction Switch, which has been developed by the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA), will, among other services, facilitate real-time transfer of money between banks without going through mobile money platforms that are owned by the three telecom firms.
Habil Olaka, the KBA chief executive, said half a dozen of the association’s 43 member banks have now received regulatory approval to pilot the product and sign up customers in preparation for its launch in the next two months.
“At the moment, about six banks have received approvals to launch the product. Approvals started coming in around two weeks ago,” Mr. Olaka said.
“We started operating the system on a pilot basis towards the end of last year and will now move to incorporate the approved banks and their customers as and when they receive the go-ahead,” said Mr. Olaka.
Co-op Bank, Family Bank, Diamond Trust Bank, Consolidated Bank, KWFT, NIC Bank, Paramount Bank, Guardian Bank, First Community Bank, Spire Bank and Stanbic Bank are in the list of 22 institutions taking part in the trial phase.
The real-time, round-the-clock platform, to be operated by KBA’s Integrated Payments Service Limited (IPSL), promises to cannibalise cheques, which take at least two working days to clear and to increase competitive pressure on mobile money products such as M-Pesa, Airtel, and Orange Money.
It should also reduce reliance on real-time gross settlement (RTGS) systems that process payments between 8 am and 3 pm on weekdays, but reflects on receiving accounts after four hours or more.
“Once a bank gets approved, they immediately start onboarding customers onto the system,” Mr. Olaka said, adding that clients will have to visit their individual banks to get on board the service.
“We expect to launch the platform in about eight weeks, or even less, depending on how comfortable we shall be at the time. We do not need to get all 43 banks on board in order to go live; we simply need a critical mass of customers.”
KBA had planned to launch the switch last August but this failed to happen following delays in getting the green light from the regulator.
Member banks submitted applications to the CBK to approve products they plan to provide through mobile, Internet, over-the-counter, agency networks, ATMs or a combination of them.
Founded under the CBK’s National Payment System (NPS) guidelines, the IPSL is expected to interconnect all banks, cut transaction costs while keeping the revenues earned from such transactions among the banks.
Credit: Business Daily