Agnes Gathaiya, CEO IPSL ( currently Google Director – East Africa) explains the latest initiatives that will make Kenya’s economy cash lighter and how Pesalink is being envisioned as the payment platform, top of the mind of all citizens.
As financial institutions and telcos offer alternative mobile money and digital payment platforms, cash in Kenya remains the most popular mode of payment.
2016 FinAccess Household Survey from Financial Sector Deepening (FSD Kenya) indicate only 1.3 percent of business owners receive payments through bank transfers, while 3 percent receive payments through mobile money.
The most current is data from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) in 2017, KSh 3.6 trillion was transacted via mobile money. This was an 8 percent increase from the Ksh 3.4957 trillion transacted in 2016.
How can this trend be improved? For Agnes Gathaiya, CEO Integrated Payment Services Ltd (IPSL) a fully-owned subsidiary of Kenya Bankers Association (KBA), it is awareness.
The money transfer platform Pesalink offered by IPSL makes it easy and fast for inter-bank and inter-person cash transfers. As part of its key mandate, IPSL says it wants to make Kenya acquire a cash-lite status while helping to promote financial inclusion.
“In terms of (IPSL) mandate, I see two things. One sweeping cash off our streets especially for large ticket transactions there is a lot of cash walking around on these streets that we have an opportunity to actually get rid off once and for all. It makes the economy move faster. It makes the cost of doing business meaningfully lower than it is today,” says Agnes.
She says it is the only way of making banking more delightful to the customer and more efficient to the bank.
“Pesalink took care of a void that existed within the market where you are able to delight the customer; ensure the money moves very fast but moves fast within in a secure environment,” says Agnes.
She observes that when Kenyan banks came together and decided to invest in a switch to conduct payments, it was incognizant that most of the customers that they have, are already used to make real-time payments. “The question is why should they limit to Ksh 70,000? Why can’t we do up to a million shillings? That can only be done within a banking environment,” she adds.
Agnes says “How can we create new efficiency within the banking space? Today we still have a large number of people walking around very large sums of money to do payments. This is because a lot of merchants only accept cash and it requires people to move around with large sums of cash and why is it that they only accept cash?
Why can’t we make life for them so much easier where they accept payments using Pesalink, the money is deposited straight to their account, they do not have to move money back and forth, it is a security risk.”
Current Kenya’s payment market data says only 10 percent of transactions are done electronically, digitally or mobile. 90 percent of all transactions in Kenya are still done in cash.
“When we look at from that perspective, that is the market trend that makes our business model extremely viable. How difficult is it from the competition? For me, the competition is that cash. There is still so much headroom in terms of the opportunity. The competition remains cash,” observes Agnes.
Fundamentally, Agnes believes they have barely scratched the surface and she would rather Pesalink focus on making the economy cash lighter and focus on people who use cash for large ticket tractions.
Today, IPSL, along with its partners, is set to launch an awareness media campaign to effectively educate the public on the attributes of using Pesalink.
“We shall be driving an awareness communication campaign dubbed ‘My Cash is Pesalink’. Where we shall be education people the attributes of Pesalink instead of cash. Pesalink is a fantastic product. Its ingenuity and it makes sense. Today it is actually the cheapest way of moving money and the easiest, but most people do not know about it. That is why the communication drive will be key,” she says optimistically.
She says, most of the initiatives being executed are based on use cases. “Specific things that encourage a customer to use Pesalink. We are currently, implementing a receipted solution. Soon, with every Pesalink transaction, you get a link, you open the link and you will have a proper receipt which you can take out as confirmation of payment.”
Agnes says they are now implementing phase two where they will be dealing with third party, non-bank actors. “We already have the application program interface (APIs) and in the process of integration with several providers.”
“Most of these payments are what we call payment aggregators that who with one integration, can get access to the whole banking industry. We are not looking to integrate with very many people,” she adds. “That will allow them to innovate and expand their offerings to their customers. This is preferred.”
Agnes hopes that in five years time, Pesalink will have yielded the intended goal by revolutionalizing the national payments space.
“I see Pesalink as the payment platform, top of the mind of all citizens. Five years from now, I want it to be the national payment system through which all payments go through.”