Gov’t to reach unbanked Kenyans through digital payment platforms

Counties Historic Photos Nairobi

The government is seeking to ensure that the unbanked people in the country become digitally connected with the ability to access instant and inclusive payment systems.

ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs Chief Administrative Secretary, Maureen Mbaka, said Kenya has made great strides in mobile payments, but some challenges are yet to be overcome.

Mbaka said that Kenya’s mobile money payments, have been lauded worldwide but a few concerns on interoperability need to be addressed, as she explained that the digital economy relies on enhanced inter-connectivity of networks and the interoperability of digital platforms in all sectors of the economy and society, to offer convergent services.

Mbaka explained that in 2013, more than two-thirds of Kenya’s adult population was reported to have a mobile payment account.

In 2018, the rate of adults making and receiving digital payments in Kenya was 79 percent, compared to 62 percent for higher-middle-income countries and 29 percent, for lower-middle-income countries.

Speaking at a Nairobi hotel, during the launch of AfricNenda, – an emerging and independent Africa-led coalition of dedicated digital payments experts, Mbaka said that there is need to work towards interoperable digital payments as they are convinced that mobile payments and cashless solutions, must be easy-to-use for everyone.

“Enhanced interoperability will reduce friction in e-commerce transactions, increase ease-of-use for consumers and reduce costs for platform operators,” she said.

The CAS said that digital services have been entrenched in the daily lives of most Kenyans, but more needs to be done to fully benefit from the digital economy.

“So what are the key pillars for moving forward? Firstly, we should not forget to put people at the center of the financial system. For both the public and private sector, the key question must be, what are the needs of the people and how will digitization work for them? Every citizen needs to benefit and find value in strategies towards a digital economy,” she said.

She highlighted that the future is digital and there is need to ensure that the continent is prepared for that, adding that in this growing digital world, people will face a future of immense possibilities.

“Kenya has embarked on its digital transformation journey that informed the formulation of the county’s economic handbook, the Digital Economy Blueprint of 2019, that seeks to have every citizen, enterprise and organization has digital access and the capability to participate and thrive in the digital economy,” said Mbaka.

She explained that this was done to ensure that the digital economy benefits become a reality and expressed hope of walking the journey with the rest of Africa.

“Digitization is indeed the next frontier for placing citizens at the heart of any nation’s development and more importantly raising their standards of living. The vision of the blueprint, is having a digitally empowered citizenry, living in a digitally enabled society. We aspire for a Kenya, where every citizen, enterprise and organization, has digital access and the capability to participate and thrive in the digital economy,” she said.

AfricaNenda CEO, Dr Robert Ocholla, said that 240 million African women are unbanked and they are not able to access any financial credit.

“AfricaNenda seeks to connect these women and other unbanked and financially excluded members of society, by accelerating the growth of instant and inclusive payment systems,” said Dr Ocholla.

He disclosed that according to data, this year alone a total of seven trillion transactions will take place through instant and inclusive payments systems globally.  The growth is expected to be 40 percent over the four to five years and move to about 28 trillion transactions.

“Around 400 million Africans are unbanked and the issue is the structural and technical barriers, which need to be addressed by players and regulators in the industry. Our mission is to provide business models, governance structures, policy and advocacy, analyzing market readiness and existing systems and gaps needed to build future proof systems, which will enable Africa access instant and inclusive payments,” said Dr Ocholla.

By Joseph Ng’ang’a


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