Kenya: Safaricom to Hide Lipa Na M-Pesa IDs

Safaricom is set to start blocking the contact details of Lipa na M-Pesa users.

This comes as the leading telecommunications firm moves to curb the trading of user information to advertisers or fraudsters.

In the new messages, the firm will only display the first and last part of the message while concealing the identity of the user once a transaction is completed.

This will include the first and last mobile phone digit numbers.

Safaricom is keen to limit the use of personal information obtained from Lipa na M-Pesa transactions by third parties.

"The plan is to hide your number where it will display say the first two or three numbers and the last ones and block out the middle, just the way banks do," said an executive at Safaricom who asked not to be identified because the information is not public.

The new move will see Safaricom use the same mode that is used by banks, where part of an account number is blocked when an online transaction is done.

Launched in 2013, Lipa Na M-Pesa empowers businesses to make and receive payments from any customer or any other business across the country.

The service particularly caters to businesses by providing higher transaction and account limits, more secure payments and easy integration with business systems and other financial services.

"The mobile phone has today become the most preferred alternative to cash and its popularity only continues to grow. More than ever, an increasing number of businesses are discovering the numerous advantages of cashless payments resulting in high growth for Lipa na M-Pesa. We continue to add more features and tools with a goal of empowering our business customers to grow and better manage their businesses," said Safaricom chief executive officer Peter Ndegwa.

Kenya ranks third among countries that receive the most spam messages averaging 102 per month per subscriber, according to data from Truecaller, the Stockholm-based caller identification app.

Merchant payments through M-Pesa have grown, especially during Covid-19 as consumers increasingly make cashless transactions to avoid contracting the highly infectious coronavirus.