It is now free to send and receive money by M-Pesa as long as the amount is below Sh 1,000. Safaricom PLC made the sweeping decision after consultations with the Central Bank Governor Dr. Patrick Njoroge over the COVID-19 or coronavirus pandemic.
The company was advised by a presidential directive to deepen mobile money usage in order to reduce the risk of spreading the virus via physical cash.
President Uhuru Kenyatta advised that reducing the cost of using mobile money may discourage people from using cash and hence reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
The new policy takes effect starting tomorrow morning, 17th March 2020 and will be in effect for 90 days following.
The move is expected to boost micro and small enterprise capability to transact business, too.
The company has also increased the limits on daily M-Pesa transactions from Sh 70,000 to Sh 150,000 to enable micro and small enterprises to use M-Pesa.
Kenyans will now be able to transact up to Sh 300,000 per day instead of the normal Sh 140,000 per day.
Safaricom is partnering with the government to provide a toll-free Call Center to help Kenyans understand how to prevent Covid-19 as well as manage cases of the disease.
The Call Center number is 719.
In Uhuru’s address to the nation on Sunday evening, the president had asked Kenyans to limit cash transactions as a way to curb the spread of coronavirus in Kenya.
Kenyatta’s briefing took place in his Harambee house office where he announced that Kenya now had three coronavirus victims, now that two more had tested positive after patient zero.
Uhuru Kenyatta argued that ‘physical handling of money’ could increase the risk of transmission of the virus.
The president called on banks and mobile telecommunications operators to reduce transaction costs for the time being as the government was trying to reduce the spread of the virus.
Ruto called on Kenyans to avoid any social gatherings and crowded places as the government took measures to control the virus.
He also called for reduced congestion in public transport.
The first Kenyan patient to test positive of Covid-19 or coronavirus arrived in Kenya on March 5, 2020. Patient zero as she is popularly called is in isolation at the Kenyatta National Hospital.