Kenya: Women Pay More to Access Mobile Money Services

Kenyan women are paying almost twice as much as their male counterparts to access mobile money services, according to a new report.

Data released by British digital payments research firm Caribou Data shows the multiple ways in which women play second fiddle in the utility of Safaricom’s fintech products, M-Pesa, M-Shwari and Fuliza.

According to the report, Payments System Design and the Financial Inclusion Gender Gap, the study conducted in major towns across the country shows a strong gender bias in transaction fees, with women paying about Sh11 per peer-to-peer transaction, compared with Sh7 for men, on average.

“It leads to a higher average of total fees paid per month, about Sh30 for women and Sh16 for men,” states the study funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

This, the survey explains, is due to the fact that women are less financially empowered, making them transact smaller amounts – usually less than Sh800 per transaction on average – which attracts higher transaction fees compared with men, who send bigger amounts on Safaricom’s mobile money platform M-Pesa.

Currently, to send Sh800 you are required to pay a transaction fee of Sh12, which is 1.5 per cent of the transaction value, compared with sending Sh15,000 at a fee of Sh97, which translates to 0.64 per cent of the amount sent.

Safaricom’s dominance

Safaricom’s dominant market position has allowed it to maintain relatively high fees, starting at Sh10 (before the Covid-19 pandemic) for transactions between Sh101 to Sh500. Consequently, users pay an average fee of about 1.5 per cent of the transaction value in fees, with women averaging a significantly higher fee burden over men.