Several major mobile money markets in Africa joined Kenya in slashing service fees and upping transaction limits in an attempt to prevent the spread of Covid-19 (coronavirus) on physical currency.

In separate statements the central banks of Ghana and Rwanda unveiled temporary measures to encourage the use of mobile money applicable to all service providers.

While there has been no formal notification from authorities in Uganda, MTN’s local division sent letters to agents announcing it was cutting tariffs following discussions with regulators and partner banks.

The policies are similar to those introduced in Kenya earlier this week.

Fee cuts
Bank of Ghana said it had agreed discounted rates and new limits with the country’s banks and mobile money operators. The new policies will come into force tomorrow (20 March) for an initial period of three months.

Under new rules transactions and withdrawals below GHS100 ($17.82) will not carry a charge and know your customer (KYC) regulations will be eased. This is alongside an increase in maximum transaction limits and balance levels for all customers. Accounts already compliant with KYC rules will be given a further hike in transaction limits.

The authority said the move was part of its response to ongoing health events and would enable “more efficient payments and promote digital forms of payments”.

National Bank of Rwanda’s new regulations cover the same period as Ghana, but remove fees on all mobile money transactions with increased daily and monthly limits depending on the type of user.

In its statement the authority urged all citizens to “take advantage of the removal of all charges on electronic money transfers and use digital payment means for all their transactions”.

In Uganda, MTN began contacting partners to announce a number of measures would be in place for a month from midnight today (19 March). These include removing fees for transactions below UGX30,000 ($7.87). Wallet-to-bank transactions are also set to be zero-rated to specific providers.

In the letter MTN Uganda said the move followed discussions with the country’s central bank and its financial services partners, and was being undertaken as a precautionary measure.