If you’re planning to visit Kenya, you might want to know about M-PESA, the mobile money service that is widely used in the country. M-PESA allows you to send and receive money, pay bills, buy airtime, and more using your phone.
M-PESA is widely used in Kenya, and it can make your life easier and safer while traveling. Here are some tips on how to use M-PESA effectively and avoid common pitfalls but first, let’s talk about how to access M-PESA.
How to Access M-PESA
M-PESA is exclusively available on Safaricom, the leading carrier in the country. The service is accessible via USSD Code *334#, via the SIM Toolkit Menu that comes with a Safaricom SIM Card, via the mySafaricom app, or via the dedicated M-PESA app. Below are the links to these apps.
Buy a Safaricom SIM Card
To get a SIM card and register for M-PESA, simply visit the nearest Safaricom Shop or one of their accredited dealers. You can also buy a SIM card from any M-PESA agent for as little as 50 KES (about 0.5 USD).
Should you need an eSIM, be sure to visit an actual Safaricom Shop for the same. To register for M-PESA, you will need to provide your passport number and a local address (your Airbnb should do). You will also need to set a four-digit PIN that you will use to access your M-PESA account.
Load money into your M-PESA account
You can deposit cash into your M-PESA account at any M-PESA agent, which is usually found in shops, kiosks, or petrol stations, and labeled appropriately. You will need to give the agent the money you wish to deposit, your Safaricom phone number, and the amount you want to deposit.
They’ll also ask for your passport number so don’t worry, it is part of the deposit process. You will then receive a confirmation message from M-PESA with your new balance.
Use M-PESA to pay for goods and services.
In Kenya, you can use M-PESA to pay for almost anything, from hotels and restaurants to taxis and tours. To pay with M-PESA, you will need to know the recipient’s phone number or till number (a unique code assigned to businesses). You will then need to enter the amount and your PIN on your phone and confirm the transaction.
Worth noting is that there are two services in this option to pay using M-PESA. There’s an option dubbed Pay Bill that allows you to pay for things like Electricity Bills, Water services, WiFi, and so on. These will require you to have your Account number.
The other one, Lipa na M-PESA (which is Swahili for Pay using M-PESA) only uses a Till number and allows you to quickly pay for services. You will find these at local eateries and vendors, at supermarkets, gas stations, stores, and so on. However, it is important to seek clarification from the attendant as many establishments prefer to use the lengthy Pay Bill option in a bid to escape transaction charges.
Use M-PESA to withdraw cash
If you need hard cash, you can withdraw money from your M-PESA account at any M-PESA agent or supported ATM. To withdraw from an agent, you will need to show your ID or Passport. There will be a big banner somewhere in the shop indicating the Agent Number and a Store number. You will need this in the menu should you want to withdraw funds.
Tell the agent the amount you want to withdraw so they confirm that the store indeed does have that money at hand. Go to your M-PESA menu and select the withdraw option and enter the details required. You should receive a confirmation message with a withdrawal code and a summary of the transaction. The agent should also receive their copy of the same and give you your money.
To withdraw from an ATM, you might want to go to your nearest Co-Operative Bank Branch. Their ATMs are the easiest to use with M-PESA. Once you’re at the ATM, you will need to select “M-PESA” on the ATM screen and follow the instructions.
Use M-PESA to send money to friends and family
You can also use M-PESA to send money to anyone in Kenya who has a phone number registered with M-PESA. You can also send money across the network divide using this guide.
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To send money, you will need to enter the recipient’s phone number, the amount, and your PIN on your phone and confirm the transaction. The recipient will then receive a message with the amount and your name.
As you can see, M-PESA is a convenient and versatile way to manage your money while traveling to Kenya. You can use it to pay for goods and services, transfer money to friends and family, and access cash from ATMs. It’s also safe, secure, and easy to use.
So don’t forget to register for M-PESA as soon as you embark on your Kenyan adventure. You’ll be glad you did when you experience the benefits of this mobile money service. M-Pesa is more than just a payment method – it’s a lifestyle!