Technocrat behind Kenya’s cashless platforms retires

The man credited with setting up Kenya’s globally acclaimed cashless regime, Stephen Mwaura Nduati, on Monday retired from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) at 60.

Mr Nduati was head of the national payments system for more than a decade with the highlight of his career being the integration of mobile money platform M-Pesa into the payments system in March 2007.

The outgoing technocrat is the brain behind the payment system architecture made up of four key platforms—electronic payment and settlement system, automated clearing house for cheques, card payment infrastructure and mobile money platform.

“It has been an honour and pleasure working with the CBK and I am proud of the achievements the bank has made in the payment system developments and their transformative effects on financial inclusion in Kenya and other countries that have pursued similar policies,” said Mr Nduati.

“I want to retool and focus on creation of an enabling environment at local, regional and international level for financial inclusion through research, legal and regulation framework,” he told the Business Daily.

The engineer, lawyer and management professional joined the CBK in 1992 and worked in various departments including bank supervision, training at Kenya School of Monetary Studies, debt management office and took charge of the payments docket in 2005.

Mr Nduati holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a law degree from the University of Nairobi, MBA from Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University.

He was part of the team that drafted the Kenya National Payments System Framework and Strategy (KEPSS) document unveiled in September 2004 that laid the basis for Kenya to set up an integrated electronic payments platform.

The CBK set up KEPSS in July 2005 as Kenya’s real-time gross settlement platform to help businesses cut the cost of handling cash and curb fraud involving high-value cheques.

The payments expert says adoption and designing regulation to allow use of mobile money remains his biggest career milestone.

Mobile money has become ubiquitous beyond cash transfers to include loan disbursement, betting, diaspora remittances, paying for shopping, utility bills, school fees and dividends payment.

In 2011, the banking regulator adopted the cheque truncation system, which cut the clearing time for cheques to two days from 14 days and capped the value of cheques at below Sh1 million.

The digital system and value capping has helped reduce cheque-related fraud as well as increase the efficiency of cheque payments.

To reduce card fraud, CBK in 2014 directed the banking industry to adopt the use of new generation chip-and-PIN cards and switch off the fraud-prone magnetic stripe cards.