Innovation in Kenya is like. . .

Innovation in Kenya

The evolution of Kenya’s informal sector agency

Mobile money human agent were one of the key pillars of Mpesa and mobile money success.

Today, human agents in Kenya, and Nairobi have evolved to cater for an increasing number of services: cash in cash out, banking service, prepaid utility.

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Big Boost for Kenya’s Mobile Lenders

At a budget reading on Wednesday 8th June, Kenya’s Treasury Chief proposed adding more proxies in measuring the credit worthiness of individuals in Kenya. The Credit Reference Bureau, Kenya’s Central credit information sharing database, intends to incorporate rental payments records from landlords, utility payments – water and electricity – , mobile operator data, and Pay TV services.

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Kenya’s Banking crisis is a Testament to Bitcoin

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This week, the 3rd Kenyan bank in 8 months was placed under receivership for 12 months by the Central Bank of Kenya. The country’s Banking regulator says, Chase Bank of Kenya misreported its loans resulting in a social media triggered bank run. Kenya’s short banking history is littered with banks that fell to the wayside. Here is a list

@Owaah on twitter

I unashamedly drained my Chase Bank account the morning of the bank run. I would do it again with any other bank. Fraud is not patriotism.

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Emerging Regulatory Issues on Digital Currencies in Kenya

Digital currencies

 
A couple of days ago I perused the Kenyan NATIONAL PAYMENT SYSTEM ACT (No. 39 of 2011)THE NATIONAL PAYMENT SYSTEM REGULATIONS, 2014 (pdf). My interest was the legal stance on issuance of P2P exchangeable assets, such as loyalty reward points in Kenya, on the bitcoin blockchain – a decentralized network. At Umati Blockchain Ltd, we are exploring using the coloured coins protocol (for now)  for issuing freely exchangeable loyalty points, with all the ease, nifty features and security of the bitcoin blockchain.

It seems, to me, digital currencies such as bonga points, and cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, fall in a gray area. They do not fit the strict definition of E-money under Kenyan law. Perhaps why, late last year, the Central bank of Kenya admitted via a public notice ‘Virtual currencies such as Bitcoin are forms of un-regulated digital currency not issued or guaranteed by any government or central bank.’ I subsequently wrote a rebuttal to this notice.

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My takeaways from E-payments panel at Connected 2016

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I was delighted to sit on an electronic payments and the future of cash panel at the connected 2016 conference. As co-founder and Chief Analyst at Umati Blockchain ltd., my invitation scope was Bitcoin, virtual currencies and the blockchain. It was great getting feedback from the audience, on what is wrong with Kenya’s cashless transition. A healthy nuance of talking points emerged from the mixed backgrounds of the panelists.

Here is a 30 min edited video of the panel session

These were my takeaways

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Uganda’s Mobile Money Censorship is a Testament to Bitcoin

Money as a form of Communication

The censorship of mobile money in Uganda during its Presidential and parliamentary elections, is a testament to the need for apolitical digital currencies like bitcoin. Money, just like media is a means of communication. Just as social media censorship riles up freedom activists, so should forms of censorship on money.

On election day, Ugandans woke up to no social media and no mobile money services. Nearly 20 million mobile money users were unable to access the service for at least two-and-half days.

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Kenya clamps down on Cash

From my Twitter timeline, I can tell there is a lot written about the ongoing war on cash; an international war on physical paper and coins. Today, it was much closer to home.

Central Bank’s new tough rules to monitor large cash transactions was an article from the Standard Digital dated January 28, 2016 [Read more…]

PesaBit #003 : Why the Matatu Cashless payment initiative failed

bebapay-googleafrica-tweetA little more than a year ago, Equity Bank and Google partnered to offer Nairobi commuters NFC based prepaid cards and simultaneously equipped matatu touts with android phones accepting NFC payments. No issuing, acquiring and transactions fees were involved; matatu owners now had an auditable tool to aggregate daily collections straight into their bank accounts. In light of Kenya’s fast tech based economy, on paper and high up in the boardrooms, this was ostensibly a brilliant idea.

Today, the online business daily ran a title “Family bank joins quest for cashless fare license”. The Kenyan Government has been keen to formalize the 218 Billion ($ 2.44 billion) public transport industry – matatus (collectively, vans and buses). Despite its obvious far reaching implications on curbing corruption, inefficiency, regulation and taxation– the move hit a snag and I wonder if Family Bank have an alternative to where its predecessors – Equity Bank and Google fell short. [Read more…]

The Role of Regulators in Mobile Money Deployment

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Mobile Money (MM) is hailed for accelerating financial inclusion and its potential for reining in an even greater multitude of unbanked global citizens into the formal financial systems. To harness its potency, policy and regulatory environments hold the key to exhausting its potential. It falls within the domain of Telecommunications and Financial Regulators/ Central banks. Central banks have asserted their regulatory authority in more recent times as Mobile Money (MM) has emerged as a remedy for financial exclusion risk. Central Banks in developing countries, including Sub Saharan Africa, are keen on leveraging MM to further their cause.

First, it’s important to state that Central Banks in emerging economies have a vast and vested interest in the success of mobile payment services. Indeed, as mentioned above, mobile payment services can contribute directly to the economic growth of the country – GFG group

Regulating MM presents simultaneous challenges and profound benefits. Regulatory and policy objectives have to be balanced with sensitive competitive market dynamics. Restrictive regulation can stifle competition, innovation and market adoption.

The importance of policy and regulatory frameworks in mobile banking development has inspired empirical research reports on the subject  such as What Regulatory Frameworks Are More Conducive to Mobile Banking? – World Bank. A 2013 GSMA report, titled Mobile Money: Enabling regulatory solutions, broadly categorized aspects encompassing all pertinent areas of MM regulation. [Read more…]