By James Anyanzwa
The Central Bank of Kenya has unveiled measures that will see mobile money users whose accounts exceed a daily turnover of Sh100,000 investigated.
Personal accounts with transactions amounting to more than Sh300,000 per week will also be probed, according to draft regulations seeking to implement and enforce sound anti-money laundering legislation for mobile payment service providers.
The laws also seek to ensure all mobile payment service providers put in place effective systems for monitoring and ensuring compliance with the Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) measures.
According to the draft regulations, a mobile payment service provider shall be required to submit a monthly report to the Central Bank, providing information relating to the mobile payment system of which disclosure is necessary to protect the security of the payment system.
If found guilty of an offence, a mobile payment service provider (or its agent) could face severe penalties from CBK.
These will include imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years, or a fine not exceeding Sh5 million or the amount of the value of the property involved in the offence, whichever is higher, or both the fine and imprisonment.
And in the case of a corporate, the penalty could be a fine not exceeding Sh25 million or the amount of the value of the property involved in the offence, whichever is higher.
A mobile payment service provider or its agent commits an offence if it knowingly transmits transfers, receives or attempts to transmit, transfer or receive a monetary instrument or anything of value to another person, with the intent to commit an offence.
A mobile payment service provider also commits an offence if it enters into an arrangement it knows or suspects facilitates the acquisition, retention, use or control of criminal property.
Two-thirds of the 29 million mobile subscribers in Kenya use mobile money services.
According to data from Central Bank, the amount of money transacted by Kenyans using their mobile phones grew by over 50 per cent to hit Sh1.4 trillion in the financial year ended June 30, last year.
The rapid growth of the mobile phone money transfer service from Sh919 billion in 2011 was helped by a 39.51 per cent growth in the number of transactions.
The number of transactions increased from 364.06 million in the year ended June 30, 2011, to 507.90 million transactions in the year ended June 30,last year.
In a similar period, the number of customers using services such as M-Pesa, Airtel Money, Orange Money and yuCash increased by 10.06 per cent from 17.99 million to 19.8 million customers.
The number of agents also increased by 31.61 per cent from 46,588 to 61,313 in the same period, with M-Pesa accounting for 76.42 per cent, Airtel Money 19 per cent and yuCash 2.8 per cent.