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The Shift by Businesses Away from M-Pesa Payments is a Remarkable Turn

Small businesses in Kenya are increasingly rejecting mobile money payments in favor of cash as they look to sidestep aggressive tax compliance measures. The shift follows the deployment of 1,400 paramilitary-trained field officers by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) across the country at the end of September. The field officers, known as Revenue Service Assistants, have been visiting businesses to ensure their compliance with tax requirements. Confirming the trend, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) last week disclosed that it would seek information on the businesses opting out of mobile money payments from Safaricom, the telco that operates mobile money service M-Pesa and its business-specific payment solution Lipa Na M-Pesa (Pay with M-Pesa). M-Pesa has a 99% share of the mobile money market in Kenya. M-Pesa crossed 30 million active customers in March last year, and more than 600,000 merchants received payments through Lipa Na M-Pesa, its business-specific payment solution, in the financial year ended March 2023.