The Central Bank of Kenya introduced a series of temporary measures to boost mobile money usage and cut the number of banknotes being handled, moves designed to prevent transmission of Covid-19 (coronavirus) from the exchange of physical cash.

For a 90-day period from today (16 March) mobile money transactions up to KES1,000 ($9.68) will not carry a charge and single transaction limits will be increased to KES150,000 with a daily limit of KES300,000.

The cost of transactions currently in place for sums of KES70,000 will apply for transfers between KES70,000 and KES150,000. Any monthly limits on transactions will be also be suspended alongside fees for transferring funds between mobile money services and bank accounts.

Prior to the change the standard transaction limit from the country’s dominant provider Safaricom was KES70,000.

The bank’s announcement follows an agreement with the country’s mobile money providers in the wake of a plea from Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta.

During a speech yesterday (15 March), Kenyatta outlined the dangers of physically handling money, adding: “We appeal to mobile operators and banks to take into consideration the situation and reduce the cost of transactions during this period”.

The bank added although the above rules were being relaxed, its frameworks related to money laundering and financing of terrorism remained in place, with the regulator closely monitoring the implementation of the new measures.