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Kenya discourages use of banknotes to fight coronavirus

Kenya battles coronavirus by choosing to carry out online transactions. The country has chosen to battle the spread of the virus by reducing its person to person contact with cash and banknotes.

Kenya’s largest telecommunication provider Safaricom will be implementing a fee waiver on East –Africa’s leading mobile-money service M-pesa, to reduce the physical exchange of currency in response to the COVID-19 outbreak that is sweeping across the world.

Safaricom announced that it will be setting up a waiver for transactions under ksh 1,000 (€8.76) and they would be free of charge to transact and it will last 90 days.

The move came after Safaricom met with the country’s Central Bank Goverenor Patrick Njoroge and other industry players and per a directive from Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta “to explore ways of deepening mobile-money usage to reduce risk of spreading the virus through physical handling of cash,” according to Safaricom.

To encourage the use of digital payments over cash and banknotes, the East African telecom will also allow transactions up to Ksh300,000 ($3,000) up from the current limit of Ksh140,000 ($1,400) and hold up to Ksh300,000 ($3,000) in their M-Pesa wallets.

The measures represent the ability of the Kenyan government to use digital finance as a lever to influence social distancing and limit on-contact transactions in an infectious health crisis.

This move could mean major losses to Kenya’s economy and great profits for Safaricom but it is a price that needs to be paid byt the country to ensure a containment of a global pandemic.

Travellers from any country with a single case of the virus have been barred from entering Kenya for the next 30 days to reduce the risk of new infections and only Kenyans and foreigners with residence permits will be allowed in, so long as they agree to be quarantined.