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Kenya’s Safaricom Partners with Ali-Express to Enable Mpesa Payments

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Kenya’s telecommunications giant, Safaricom and Ant Financial Services – the world’s largest fintech services provider – announced on Tuesday a partnership that will allow Kenyans shopping on AliExpress.com to pay for their purchases using M-PESA. The move targets micro-traders in the country who source for goods and other supplies from manufacturers in China, and signifies Safaricom’s continued push to position M-PESA as a truly global mobile money transfer and payments platform.

“Our more than 21 million customers can now enjoy the safety, reliability and convenience of M-PESA when shopping on AliExpress, a leading, global e-commerce marketplace. This partnership seeks to connect Kenyans to even more business opportunities by enabling them to seamlessly source, purchase and import goods from the world’s leading manufacturer,” said Sylvia Mulinge – Chief Customer Officer, Safaricom.

Kenyans shopping on Aliexpress.com will be presented with M-PESA as one of the payment options when checking out their shopping cart on the app or website. Once customers select M-PESA, they will then key in their mobile phone numbers and will subsequently receive a prompt on their phones to type their M-PESA PIN to complete the payment.

AliExpress customers selecting M-PESA as a payment channel will have their total cost displayed in Kenya Shillings with standard Lipa Na M-PESA Paybill charges applicable for each transaction. As has been the case, shoppers will also have the option of using their post office box numbers as the delivery location for their items.

The service is already live on the AliExpress app and will be available on AliExpress.com in coming weeks.

The number of transactions on Lipa Na M-PESA has continued to grow, with data from the Central Bank of Kenya showing that the mobile phone is the most preferred mode of cashless payments in the country, accounting for more than eight of every ten such payments in December 2018.

“We are keen on leveraging the power of mobile technology to transform lives, and we see a great opportunity to do this by connecting people to people, to knowledge and to opportunities. We believe that the mobile phone has the ability to pull down some barriers to trade by enabling global e-commerce, and this partnership with Ant Financial Services marks yet another important milestone not just in Safaricom’s efforts to take M-PESA beyond Kenya, but to Kenya’s participation in the international e-commerce marketplace,” added Sylvia.

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National Bank Issues A Profit Warning Due To Higher Loan Impairment And Restructuring Costs

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The National Bank of Kenya (NBK) has issued a profit warning for the financial year ended December 2018 citing higher loan impairment charges and restructuring costs. The bank which is a listed lender of The Nairobi Securities Exchange will now be expected to post at the very least  25% lower earnings for the year ending December 2018 than the previous year. The anticipated drop means its net profit for the period is unlikely to surpass Sh308 million. “(This is) primarily due to increased loan impairment charges beyond initial projections due to a revision of valuations and values recoverable from the non performing loan portfolio,” said the firm in a cautionary statement.

“During the year the group incurred a one off restructuring cost (voluntary early retirement programme) as part of wider business alignment, the full benefit will be realized in 2019,” the statement added. NBK has in the recent past registered a series of poor performance that has pushed its survival into an uncertainty mode.

The lender is in the grip of an operational crisis, stuck in a negative liquidity position as at the end of the first nine months of the year even as plans to sell it remain in limbo. The NBK’s nine-month profit dipped by 84 per cent to Sh21.97 million as a result of reduced lending.

Loans and advances to its customers dropped by Sh9.9 billion or 17 percent to Sh48 billion compared to last year’s nine month position of Sh57.88 billion. The Treasury has approved for sale of NBK among other two State owned lenders who are, Consolidated Bank (CBKL) and the Development Bank of Kenya (DBK) along with a number of other parastatals.

The plans are, however, yet to take off even after the State sought to hire a chief manager in charge of transactions as it moved to unlock the stalled sale. The NBK’s core capital stood at Sh2.34 billion at the end of September 2018, about four times thinner than the Sh9 billion it had in September last year, leaving it significantly in breach of regulatory capital ratios and therefore constrained in its ability to lend.

Although its liquidity ratio is above the minimum requirement of 20 percent, the NBK’s total capital to total risk-weighted assets stood at a deficiency of or negative 10.4 percent as at the end of the first nine months of the year. The NBK’s core capital to total deposit liabilities stood at a negative or deficiency of 5.5 percent while core capital to total assets stands at negative 7.9 percent.

Faced with such a dicey situation, the lender has a constrained room to take in more deposits. The Treasury has injected limited amounts of capital into the lender which has not been sufficient to put the banks in the right legal position on the ratios. The NBK was compelled to continue running on constrained capital after the Treasury and National Social Security Fund (NSSF) missed own-imposed deadline of injecting Sh4.2 billion fresh capital.

The NBK said late last year that it was still awaiting the money that ought to have come in by end of September, according to the formal commitments made by the Treasury and the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) in March last year. “In March 2018, the principal shareholders gave formal commitment for a comprehensive capital solution. The board notes that this process is ongoing,” said CEO Wilfred Musau. “The capital injection will unlock and bolster the key pillars of our growth and place the bank in even a better probability path in the long-term.”

But the delay leaves the NBK in a precarious situation given that the same government has for long been mulling over merging the bank with DBK and Consolidated Bank. The NSSF owns 48.1 percent of the NBK while Treasury holds 22.5 percent stake, making them the two principal shareholders.

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Kenya’s Safaricom Surpasses 30 Million Customers

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Kenya’s telecommunication giant, Safaricom announced on Thursday that it has passed the 30 millionth customer milestone, cementing the firm’s position as the most preferred mobile service provider in the country. To celebrate the milestone, Safaricom is thanking its customers for their loyalty through compelling Bonga Points offers beginning Friday 22nd March, 2019.

“We would like to thank each of our more than 30 million customers for choosing Safaricom as their preferred network which has contributed to our achievement of this remarkable and historic milestone. This breakthrough reflects our customer’s vote of confidence in our purpose of Transforming Lives. Last year as we turned 18, we announced our brand promise of ‘Nawe Kila Wakati’, where we renewed our commitment to always deliver great value on our network,” said Sylvia Mulinge, Chief Customer Officer – Safaricom.

Between Friday and Sunday, all Safaricom customers will have the option to redeem 1 Bonga Point for KES 1 worth of airtime to a limit of KES 100 airtime, or 1 Megabyte of data valid 7 days to a limit of 1 GB, enjoying a 67% discount. Customers can redeem the offers as many times as they wish for the three days by dialing *444*3#.

Safaricom will also extend the 1 to 1 offer to the Neon Kicka 4, which will be available for 3,499 points. Customers with fewer points can top up the difference in cash at KES 1 for 1 point. The device will be available at all Safaricom shops and all dealer outlets countrywide while stocks last.

In October 2018, Safaricom marked its 18th anniversary since the company was founded in 2000.

Over the last 18 years, Safaricom customers have enjoyed a variety of transformative products and services.

Safaricom has also spent more than KES 100 billion in the last three years ensuring more than half of Kenya’s population has access to high-speed mobile connectivity through 4G while 3G and 2G networks reach more than 91 per cent and 96 per cent of the population respectively.

Besides its products and network, Safaricom has also placed a lot of focus in being close to its customers through initiatives such as ‘Ndoto Zetu’.

“We continue to appreciate our customers through the ‘Ndoto Zetu’ initiative, where we are coming together to make a difference to their communities, inspired by their dreams. Our objective is to make a positive change across more than 500 communities,” said Sylvia.

 

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Delays In Approving Project Causes Cytonn Protest

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Cytonn Investment, a real estate company has blamed lengthy regulatory processes for delaying its projects which has forced them to base their completion on approval dates. The Chief Executive Edwin Dande said that its thre-tower mixed-use skyscraper project worth  Sh20 billion that was intended to raise 35 floors each in Kilimani has been delayed after some residents objected alongside National Environment Management Authority (Nema) saying it would a disruption in the area. He adds that similar delays happened to their Karen project whose commencement was first reported in August 2016. “The four-acre parcel of land for Cytonn Towers is intact and we are soon meeting residents neighbouring our project site to seek a solution that works for all of us. These issues take a long time … for instance, our Sh5.5 billion project with 60 luxury units Situ Village in Karen that is to commence after a three-year battle before the Nema tribunal,” he said.

For every planned project, proponents must file a request with the Nema disclosing all details and architectural drawings as well as other regulatory agencies with the public notified to file an objection within 30 days of the notice being published in the Kenya Gazette and daily newspapers.

Mr. Dande who was speaking after he signed a Sh650 million loan with SBM Bank said that The Alma project which has 407 units comprising of one, two and three- bedroom apartments is set for completion by end of year while Sh12 billion project in Ridgeways with 700 units is expected to be done by  next year. SBM Bank deputy chief executive Jotham Mutoka welcomed the partnership saying the bank was looking forward to funding other big-ticket real estate projects as well as fund mortgages. “We are eyeing business at the corporate, SME and retail level in our match to becoming a tier one bank. We bought off third-tier Fidelity Commercial bank and last year added Chase Bank to our portfolio of acquisitions bringing our branch network to 52,” he said.

Mr Dande said apart from the bank loan, the company had attracted Sh11 billion from 3,000 investors and more funds received from Finnish-based listed firm Taareli.

Currently, Cytonn manages Sh82 billion worth of investments in Nairobi and Kiambu with plans afoot to expand residential developments to other major towns in Kenya.

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