As a local web and mobile app developer, Joshua Mutua, the founder and CEO of KejaHunt and KejaMove, businesses in real estate and relocations respectively; struggled to buy domain names online on sites such as Godaddy, Namecheap and domains.com  because he had no credit card. His bank also limited his debit card to offline purchases only and he had to alert them every time he wanted to make an online transaction.

For years, him and his friends prayed that a new service provider would launch an appropriate solution. He heard that some local banks allowed their customers to shop online using their prepaid debit cards. Even his bank launched a new prepaid card for people like him. However, the pain was the same.

He tried NationHela and Nakumatt Global Cards but both the cards were discontinued after a few years of operation. Mutua went back to using his friends in the diaspora to buy him stuff online anytime he wanted to.

But the new partnership between Safaricom, TransferTo and PayPal has proved to be a savior, just days after its announcement.

The new Safaricom International money transfer service for PayPal and M-PESA customers enables users to either deposit M-PESA into PayPal or withdraw PayPal into M-PESA in a few simple steps. The service takes just two hours unlike prior when users had to wait for days before they received their money.

“I used to use a certain service before it was discontinued. I think they hadn’t reached out to PayPal and therefore appeared fraudulent. Then friends introduced me to other services which turned out to be so unreliable and expensive,” Mutua said. “There exchange rates were so low and they could take days before acknowledging to have received your transaction. i then moved to Equity but it was taking 8 days then. Though the reduced the number of days to 3, one still needed to have an account with them before they could get their money.”

With the new service, Mutua says he didn’t need to wait for many days to access his money.

“Everyone has M-PESA nowadays and PayPal popularity is growing among the developer community. I just linked my M-PESA and PayPal accounts and I was good to go,” he said.

In order to use the PayPal Mobile Money Service with M-PESA, all one needs is a Kenyan PayPal and M-PESA account. Users just link the two accounts and they will be able to move your money from one to the other.

To get an M-PESA account, one only needs to buy a Safaricom SIM card then ask the agents to register both the SIM card and for an M-PESA account as long as they have their national ID or passport.

To sign up for a PayPal account. Users log into paypal.com/ke and follow the simple steps provided to complete registration. Users can add their bank cards or simply leave the space blank due to the deal between Safaricom and PayPal. After signing up, a user is supposed to check their email address to confirm their account for security purposes.

Now that a user has both an M-PESA account and a PayPal account, the next logical step is signing up for this service which simply requires them to submit their account details to TransferTo, then await a 4-digit verification code to their M-PESA mobile number. After entering the code to confirm and complete the account linkage, the M-PESA to PayPal service will work seamlessly from their henceforth.

Ronald Bwire, a graphics designer based in Nairobi is also another happy client using the new service. He is elated that he can easily withdraw his money in a few hours after this PayPal, Safaricom and TransferTo partnership.

“I get paid everyday via PayPal because I do my designs for clients across the world. I use PayPal more than I use bank account. Though I had money in my PayPal account, there were months my landlord locked me out because I couldn’t withdraw my money in time. I really think this partnership was just for me,” he told TechMoran. “It’s so heaven sent.”

Feritter Owich, a fashionista and marketing manager at Euro Collections, a firm that imports high end suits and fashion wear from European stores is also happy about the new service.

“It has changed my business,” she told TechMoran. “I can easily spot a great attire on say Amazon then quickly load my PayPal to buy it. Sometimes my clients send me online links to various fashion stores and I can easily buy this clothes and shoes for them. Then deal with shipping. Unlike in the past, payments was a problem.”

To top up and buy online Owich says she signs into the service, then clicks on “Top Up”. She then chooses the amount she wants to top up in USD then the service clicks to show her how much she needs in KES. She then heads over to her M-PESA menu, selects “Lipa na M-PESA” then the “Pay Bill” option, enters the Business Number 800088, her phone number as the Account Number, then enters her PIN and sends the amount to her PayPal account.

With money in her PayPal and in USD, she then goes ahead to shop for her clients on whatever online store they had requested. Compared to going to the bank to get get USD and do transfers, this service has made her more effective than she was and she is selling more.

For those who get paid via PayPal and want to withdraw. The process is simple. You log into the new service, then click “Withdraw” if you already signed up and linked the services.

After logging in to withdraw, the service shows your available balance in USD balance then it shows the period it will take for you to have it. In this case its just two hours. All currencies have to be converted to USD at the the moment. Conversion is done from one’s PayPal account. A user chooses the amount they want to withdraw if they do not want to withdraw the whole amount. A user will  be shown the USD equivalent of the withdraw amount in Kenyan Shilling.

 

The charges are not that high compared to competition. Users pay a 4% conversion fee of the amount topped up while the service charges just 3% conversion fee of the amount withdrawn. The service shows a user the amount he or she will receive in KES, the exchange rate used for the currency conversion, and the estimated transaction processing time.

All the rates and commissions are shown before the transactions. It takes between 2 hours to 3 calendar days to process a withdrawal from your PayPal account to your M-PESA account, depending on the transaction value. The user is presented the estimated time before the transaction proceeds. Top Ups to a user’s PayPal account are mostly real time but at times it may take up to 4 hours to process. Users get text notifications on both depositing and withdrawing.

“All I’m asking for now is for the providers to increase the transaction limits from the current 70,000 KES per transaction and 140,000 KES per day to bigger amounts due to inflation and bulk purchases for sellers in fashion like us,” said Owich.