Some time back there was furor on Social Media when people came to learn that the Lipa na M-pesa service had hidden charges. The bone of contention was that Safaricom had announced the service as being free of charge. However, it later emerged that the merchants were allowed to put in place transaction fees. These fees were not usually indicated anywhere and one had to ask the vendors if they had any charges before transacting.
However, this week as I was paying for some goods using Lipa na Mpesa I noticed that the M-pesa message had the transaction fee which was charged indicated. An Mpesa transaction carried out also had the fee indicated. This is an interesting development because one can now be able to easily tabulate how much one spends on transaction fees while transacting via M-pesa. This was apparently done after the Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) ordered them to do so most probably to bring about transparency on the fees charged. The CAK order largely focused on Lipa na M-Pesa but Safaricom has implemented the feature wholesale.
The feature will be rolled out in three phases, in the first phase customers will first receive notifications on charges paid for a transaction as part of the Mpesa confirmation message. In the second phase, customers will receive a pop up message informing them of any charges prior to the transactions. The third phase will see the service being made available to value-added M-pesa financial products such as M-shwari, KCB M-pesa, Okoa Stima and M-tiba. The second and third phases are to be rolled out in coming months.