The High Court of Kenya has ordered Safaricom, one of the country’s leading telecommunications companies, and the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) to suspend the reintroduction of charges for transactions between mobile money wallets and bank accounts. The interim order was issued by Judge Mugure Thande in response to a petition filed by a Nairobi resident, Mr. Moses Wafula, who argued that the charges should not be passed on to consumers.
The reintroduction of charges, which was to take effect from January 2023, was announced by CBK in a press release issued on December 6, 2022. According to the release, the new charges were to be lower than the previous charges that were in place before the emergency measures were implemented in March 2020 as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In his petition, Mr. Wafula argued that the reintroduction of charges would be a violation of the rights and interests of consumers and that it would be difficult to ask the banks to refund the funds that were lost as a result of the charges. He also argued that the charges incurred in Mpesa Paybill services, which are a service provided by Safaricom to its primary clients such as banks, should be paid for by the clients and not the consumers.
The judge’s order effectively stops the reintroduction of charges between mobile money wallets and bank transactions, pending the determination of the suit. The case, which relates to financial consumer rights with a focus on the area of payment services provided by Safaricom in the form of Lipa Na M-Pesa Pay Bill Service, will be mentioned on January 23, 2023.