Kenya’s IP scheme is still relatively new and finding its feet within the payments ecosystem, with strong growth at 70% YOY. However, this high rate of growth is coming off a small base and the IP market’s overall volume is hindered by a high unbanked population with prominent usage of mobile money apps.

PesaLink is a real-time interbank money transfer solution operating 24/7/365, launched by the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) in February 2017. The platform was built and is managed by Integrated Payment Services Limited, a fully owned subsidiary of KBA. As of January 2020, there were over three million registered accounts on PesaLink.

PesaLink enables customers to transfer funds from one bank account to another instantly via various channels, including online and mobile banking, ATMs, bank branches, USSD and agency banking. Funds can be transferred using a recipient’s bank account number, mobile number, credit card or debit card. Available for both individuals and businesses, it enables P2P transfers, bill payments and payments for goods and services.

It also facilitates transfers in foreign currencies including euros, U.S. dollars and British pounds. Users are allowed to transfer values from a minimum of KES10 ($0.10) to a maximum of KES999,999 ($9,815).



  • Consumers
  • Banks
  • Merchants
  • Billers

Banks/FIs participating


Population banking level


Number of debit, credit and charge cards per adult


Index to global average



Key statistics


IP launch year

Immediate payments types

Single instance, bulk payments

Initiation & authorization

Bank account, mobile number, payment card number

ISO 8583

Message standard









Adults who have a mobile wallet and have used it in the past year

Share of volumes by payments instrument



Spend (USD)

  • Paper-based payments
  • Electronic payments
  • Immediate payments

Immediate payments volume and its share in overall non-paper-based transactions, 2017-24f

% of total electronic payments transaction volume


Though Kenya’s IP scheme is on a significant upward growth trajectory, volumes are still extremely small. In 2019, paperbased payments comprised nearly 90% of transaction volumes and over half of all spend — a significantly high figure when compared to other nations in the study.

The biggest factor impacting the usage rate in Kenya is a population which is not only underbanked, but unbanked. As of 2016 only 31% of adults had a bank account. That does not mean that a majority of Kenyan adults are financially excluded; that same year, over 82% reported having access to financial services. The main source of financial inclusion is the extraordinary popularity of mobile money, which operates in much the same way as a mobile wallet, but does not require a bank account or payment card for usage.

M Pesa is the market leader for mobile money in Kenya. It launched in 2007 and as of 2018, 81% of mobile money users, or 75% of Kenyan adults, were active users of M Pesa. For perspective, M Pesa processed 11B transactions in 2019 to PesaLink’s 4M.

So, while the Kenyan population does have access to digital payments through mobile money, IP adoption is hindered by the lack of bank account ownership. With a continuing heavy reliance on paper-based payments, there is a lot of potential for IP to grow and cannibalize those transactions. However, until access to banking grows, IP usage will remain limited to the banked minority of the population.

ACI’s take

Although current volumes may appear low, Kenya could be primed for real-time growth if a combination of factors such as an increase in the number of bank accounts and a compelling reason to move beyond mobile money access occur.

Through its Vision 2030 plan, Kenya’s government has a stated aim of achieving a “cash light” society. It has used the G2C use case to push a financial inclusion agenda, which evidence suggests creates a catalyst for IP adoption in markets with similar indicators.

There is a vibrant investment profile across sub-Saharan Africa and an appetite for all things digital. As Kenya’s technology sector has the nick name of “Silicon Savannah,” the rate and pace of innovation coupled with its digital footprint means more innovation is to come in payments. It is hoped that, as well as increasing mobile money access, this approach will also lift the number of bank account services available to Kenyans.


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