KENYA:Mobilemoney agents go for 24-hour service clients






Mobile money agents in Kenya are striving to offer 24-hour service as popularity and demand for the revolutionary platform increases.

The agents are taking their services to hospitals, petrol stations, bus termini, churches, guesthouses, eateries, nightclubs and other establishments that operate for 24 hours.

The move is to enable people visiting the premises to access mobile money, which has become a dependable service in the east African nation as people do away with cash transactions.

At hospitals, patients or their kin can withdraw money and pay for admission bills and buy drugs.

This reduces inconveniences of failing to admit a patient, in case of emergencies since some hospitals, especially private ones, demand people to pay certain amount of money before the sick are served.

Similarly, motorists and passengers can withdraw cash and buy fuel or food at eateries stationed at most petrol stations.

For mobile money agents stationed at guesthouses, visitors can withdraw cash and pay for their accommodation.

A spot check in various establishments in the capital, which operate for 24 hours or late into the night, revealed majority have mobile money outlets.

For instance, at nightclubs in the central business district, it has become the norm to have mobile cash outlets in the facilities. The shops help people access money easily thus encourage spending.

The trend to offer 24-hour service by mobile money agents is gaining currency in the east African nation as most establishments seek to offer services round the clock.

"It has become difficult for people to do without mobile money transfer services.

"The services are slowly replacing the habit of walking around with cash. Now, since people must have money always, it demands that they should be able to access mobile cash service any time," Fred Njoku, who operates a 24-hour mobile money outlet at a guest house in Kayole estate on the east of the capital, explained.

Njoku has been running the mobile money service for 24 hours for the past six months.

"The shop is stationed at the entrance of the guesthouse.

"So, it can serve both people visiting the guesthouse and residents," he said.

During the day, most of those who use the service are residents, while at night they are visitors at the guesthouse.

"A guesthouse receives visitors round the clock.

"Therefore, people use mobile money service throughout the night.

"Some deposit cash in their accounts while majority usually withdraw," he said.

Njoku recounted that he was asked to start offering the service after the guesthouse management noted that most of their visitors were asking for mobile money.

"I was called and asked if I could start the mobile money outlet at the facility.

"At first I was hesitant as I thought about security and demand, but I decided to give it a shot," he explained.

Six months down the line, Njoku who operates several mobile money shops in the suburb, does not regret his decision.

"I set up shop and then looked for two people to employ at the facility for night and day shift.

"One person cannot work in the two shifts.

"I employed a lady for the day shift and a man for the night shift," he said.

The businessman noted that use for the service, especially at night has grown tremendously.

"There are some people who come to the guesthouse mainly because they know they will find mobile money transfer services, where they can send and receive cash," he noted.

Njoku recounted he realized importance of the service when two people at one time arrived at the guesthouse seeking accommodation, but they did not have any money.

"The two were from a neighboring country.

"They had been mugged in the estate and had lost their valuables in the incident.

"They came there, recounted their plight as they sought help.

"They were assisted to call a friend in the city, who sent them money, which they withdrew at my shop and paid for accommodation services," he said.

Nairobi resident Beatrice Akinyi noted that having mobile money outlets stationed at establishments that offer 24-hour service saves many people.

"The other day my son fell ill at night and I had to rush him to hospital.

"I did not have enough cash.

"When I reached there, I was asked to pay 30 U.S. dollars before he is admitted," she said adding that if it had not been not for mobile money, she would not have done it.

She called a friend, who sent her some money on her mobile phone and she withdrew at the facility.

"I was able to withdraw the cash and pay for admission fee.

"It saved me the hustle of going to search for an ATM, which was far, and yet I had an emergency," narrated Akinyi, who lives in Rongai, on the outskirts of the capital.

The 24-hour establishments, however, are embracing mobile money service because they prefer people to pay for their services in cash to avoid fraud.

Latest statistics from Communication Commission of Kenya indicated there are 19.5 million mobile money subscribers on four service providers in the east African nation namely Safaricom, Yu, Zain and Orange.

The subscribers make an average of 43 million K.Shillings transactions per month, valued at about 1.55 billion U.S. dollars.

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