Kenyans Turn to Cash to Fight Cashless Fees

Feb 3, 2023

Kenyans are choosing to withdraw and spend cash in preference to using cashless options due to high transaction fees, with business owners calling on the government to revise charges and encourage greater payment choice.

The Central Bank of Kenya suspended transaction fees for mobile wallet payments and bank-to-bank transfers in March 2020, but announced their reintroduction in December 2022. Although the maximum charges permissible were reduced (up to 61 percent for transfers from bank accounts and 47 percent on mobile money payments), citizens were unhappy with the return of fees.

In January, the Kenyan High Court suspended mobile payment fees pending the results of an ongoing lawsuit that claims passing charges on to customers contravenes consumer rights. However, an investigation by KTN News found people are still increasingly turning to cash, frustrated with the cashless situation.

An increasing number of Kenyans are shunning online transfers of money in favour of withdrawals of cash, citing high [cashless] charges.
"KTN News

Small businesses have been especially hard hit, with many traders being obliged to refuse cashless payments and instead ask customers to use cash. KTN News spoke to business owners in Nairobi’s central business district who previously supported a range of payment options, but are now buying and selling goods solely in cash.

I can’t save money [using mobile transactions] so I need to withdraw money to go back to the market all the time, so those transactions are in cash only.
"Sammy Mbugua, Market Trader, Nairobi

Traders express hope that the government will review and lower cashless charges—with the outcome of the mobile payment trial of particular significance—to secure a future of complete payment choice and allow customers to pay with cash, or any other option that suits them.

Last Updated: Feb 3, 2023