M-Pesa: How It Works…

FAQs – M-PESA GENERAL INFORMATION

What is M-PESA?

M-PESA is an innovative mobile payment solution that enables customers to complete simple financial transactions including person to person money transfer. It is aimed at mobile customers who do not have a bank account, either by choice, because they do not have access to a bank or because they do not have sufficient income to justify a bank account.

Do I need to have a bank account?

No. M-PESA has been designed so that people without bank accounts can use it. Your money is held safely in a bank account run by M-PESA on your behalf. You do not have any contact with the bank and the bank does not have your details.

Do I need to have a minimum amount in my account like some banks ask for?

No. Your M-PESA account can have a much or as little money in it as you like between zero and Ksh50,000 at any time.

Do I need to pay any service charges for having an M-PESA account?

No. M-PESA charges you on a pay-as-you-go basis every time you do a transaction. You’re only charged for the transactions you have initiated.

I already have a bank account. Can I access it using M-PESA
No. M-PESA is completely separate to any other account you may have.

Can I use my Safaricom airtime to top up my M-PESA account

No. Your M-PESA account is completely separate from your Safaricom airtime. You cannot buy M-PESA value using airtime. However you can use your M-PESA value to buy airtime for your own or another Safaricom subscriber’s phone. Safaricom subscribers do not need to be registered for M-PESA to receive airtime from you.

Can I top up a Zain number?

No. At present, you can only buy airtime for Safaricom numbers.

What services are available?
  • Deposit money
  • Withdraw money
  • Transfer(send) money to another M-PESA customer
  • Send money to someone who isn’t an M-PESA customer and they do not necessarily need to be Safaricom customers
  • Buy Safaricom prepaid airtime for yourself and other Safaricom subscribers
  • Manage M-PESA account
  • Pay bill (this function is not fully operational and is still in undergoing test)
How do customers register for M-PESA?
  1. If you are already a Safaricom customer, you may need a SIM replacement to get a NEW SIM with the M-PESA function. SIM replacement will be done through the normal Safaricom procedure.
  2. If you got your Safaricom SIM recently, it may already have the M-PESA menu. Check by going into your phone menu and selecting “Safaricom”. If your SIM already has M-PESA you will see the M-PESA option on the menu.
  3. If you’re not a Safaricom subscriber, you will have to purchase a Safaricom line with the M-PESA menu to enable you to register as a new M-PESA customer.
  4. Before you regsiter, ensure you have an M-PESA enabled SIM Card (Refer to Points 1,2 or 3 above where applicable).
  5. Register for free in any M-PESA Agency in order to open an M-PESA account. Registration takes about 3 minutes; you will need to have your M-PESA enabled Safaricom SIM and your ID card. You will also be required to sign an agreement to the Terms & Conditions of service.
Are there any charges for SIM Swaps?

SIM swaps are FREE.

What are the benefits of M-PESA?

M-PESA allows you to make transactions simply and securely in a few seconds by using SMS technology. This has many benefits to customers in terms of convenience, security and ease of use. The pricing is competitive compared with other formal money transfer services.

How does M-PESA work?
  • To load money into your M-PESA account you need to go to an M-PESA Agent and make a cash deposit which results in electronic money being transfered into your M-PESA account (This is confirmed by an SMS received by both the Agent and the Customer).You can then conveniently transfer money to other mobile phone users by sms transaction.
  • To withdraw cash from your M-PESA account or (for unregistered customers to get cash), you need to go to an M-PESA agent and make an electronic transfer to the agent who will exchange this for cash.
Does M-PESA work across networks?

Only Safaricom customers can register for M-PESA. However the person you are sending money to does not need to have an M-PESA account or be a Safaricom subscriber.
The M-PESA service is cheaper if you send money to a registered M-PESA customer.

Can I use M-PESA if my line is expired?
  • You cannot use M-PESA if your line is expired since M-PESA is dependent on the Safaricom SMS service.
  • You will be able to use M-PESA to perform top-ups, even if your line is expired. Topping up will make your line active again!
How do I get my start up key, if I forget and have no funds?
  • If a customer needs a new start key, he will need to deposit money into his M-PESA account. He can do this WITHOUT an M-PESA menu on his phone, as long as he is registered.

What is the difference between a registered M-PESA customer and an unregistered customer?

An M-PESA customer’s SIM-Card has the full M-PESA menu and is able to carry out all the services described above.

An unregistered customer is one that receives money from an M-PESA customer and does not have to be a Safaricom subscriber. An unregistered customer can only get the cash sent to him/her but cannot carry out other M-PESA transactions.

AGENT INFORMATION

Who are the M-PESA Agents?

  • Safaricom dealers, operating one or more outlets around Kenya
  • Other retailers with a substantial distribution network like petrol stations, distributors, supermarkets and Registered SMEs
  • Selected Banks and Micro-Finance Institutions

How do I become an M-PESA agent?

Any interested party will need to contact the M-PESA department for vetting and signing of contract so as to become an M-PESA agent. For more information on ‘How to become an Agent’ email: M-PESA@Safaricom.co.ke

CUSTOMER INFORMATION

What do I do in case of a wrong transfer?

Wrong transfers are reversible on the M-PESA system, upon rigorous vetting of the sender and recipient and if the money has not yet been cashed or withdrawn. If you make an incorrect transaction, please call 234 for assistance.

Can I top up using M-PESA if my account is expired?

It is possible to top up even if the line is expired

Is it possible to top up unregistered users?

Yes, you can top-up any Safaricom pre-paid SIM using your M-PESA account.

Can I top up if I am a Safaricom Advantage customer?

Safaricom Advantage customers will be able to top up other Safaricom Pre-paid accounts but not their own account.

Can I register if I have a Celtel number?

M-PESA is available for Safaricom mobile users only. Celtel subscribers will have to churn to Safaricom. If you do not have a Safaricom SIM Card, we will be happy to provide you one at current market rates.

Can my present SIM-Card use M-PESA?

  • Check by going into your phone menu and selecting “Safaricom”. If your SIM already has M-PESA you will see the M-PESA option on the menu, if not, you need to do a SIM Replacement.

What happens if I do not get an SMS from M-PESA confirming the transaction?

On occasion there is a delay in receiving your SMS from M-PESA for more than 20 minutes, call the customer service line 234 who will advise on the status of your transaction on the M-PESA system.

What happens if the Safaricom network is down?

As M-PESA relies on SMS messages, if the Safaricom SMS service is down, M-PESA will not function.

When will my start key expire?

Start keys do not expire.

What happens if I lose my SIM?

You should get a replacement SIM in the usual way. You can use your existing M-PESA PIN to activate the menu on your new SIM.

How many times can I change my secret word.

We currently have no limit to the number of times you can change your secret word.

I received my confirmation message with secret word, but the M-PESA menu has not come through

Use the new PIN you changed to on activation as the current start key then activate/wezesha once more. In the unlikely event that this doesn’t work call customer support to generate a new start key, for this activation. Unless some money is deposited generation of a start key will not be possible.

I have a Motorola C113 and can’t activate my account?

There are a number of Motorola phones that don’t receive the Safaricom menu. In that case you need to use another model of phone to receive the menu then return the SIM to your motorolla phone and it will function well.

Is a photocopy of my passport or ID sufficient to register, or do cash transactions at an Agent?

No – we need to see your original ID. Driving License is not sufficient. Aliens Certificate is a form of Kenyan ID & is o.k.

I have a 7 digit ID – what will I use to activate?

  • Add a zero at the end of the seven digit number to make it eight digit.
  • In case you have a passport you need to replace the alphabets with zeros e.g. A34558K will become 34558000

Will my transactions be limited to the Agency store where I registered?

No. You will be able to carry out transactions at any M-PESA agency store and not limited to where you registered.

What happens when I lose my M-PESA SIM?

Call line 234 to have your account suspended. Proceed and get a SIM swap to retain your number and activate your SIM as normal using your previous M-PESA PIN you will receive your menu once more to continue enjoying the service. Note that you will need to call customer services to release your account to enable you activate properly.

How safe is my money?

If registered your money is safe since every transaction requires identification in form of a secret PIN. This is enhanced by use of Secret word for any call to customer care.

I am not receiving SMS confirmation for the transactions I have done

This could be as a result of the following:

  • Your inbox is full, so delete some messages
  • You have diverted messages to screened messages, check the Screened Messages Inbox. If the messages are ther, remove M-PESA from the Screened numbers list.
  • If none of the above works, contact Safaricom Customer Care on 234 for more assistance.

I am not receiving any SMSes

  • If none of the above works, contact Safaricom Customer Care on 100 for more assistance

Can i buy airtime through M-PESA if i’m out of the country?

Yes. As long as there is M-PESA value in your account and you have roaming on your line.

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50 thoughts on “M-Pesa: How It Works…

  1. Hi,

    the 234 number for wrong transactions takes forever to get through. perhaps e-mail could be better so let’s try it out:
    Dear people,

    Yesterday, Wednesday, December 03, 2008, I mistakenly withdrew sh 600 through agent no 120042, located in far-away, Njoro instead of 01947 on Tom Mboya street, Nairobi.

    This is the confirmation:

    D59PG862 Confirmed.
    On 3/12/08 at 6:13 PM
    Withdraw Ksh600 from 124002 – Amsa Communications Njoro
    New M-PESA balance is Ksh5,203.

    I will be happy if you could reverse the transaction

    Kariuki Anthony Kiragu, tel 0727710089

  2. Am concerned with the long delay it takes before mpesa agents get the activation key. I was given the mpesa agent phone, but four days down the line, I have not yet received the activation key. can someone please advise

  3. Can someone post what is displayed on the phone of the user who is receiving the funds from an mpesa transfer? I would really like to know what information is passed between users and if it’s possible to add additional information to the transfer (name, location, etc…) Thanks!!!

  4. I have tried calling 234 for help but in vein, I wrongly transfered money to No 071312718 which doesn’t exist and I got message J74b0901 CONFIRMED kSH 6,000 sent to +25471312718 on 10/8/2009 at 11.53 am, New M-PESA balance is Ksh 3,896, Instead of +254 713127318 when reconfirming the number just to know weather the money went to someone, the replay was the number doesn’t exist,

    I will be happy if you can reverse my transaction

    Charles Malcon Lochodo Tel 0713552393

  5. Hello,

    I wish to become an MPESA agent. Recently the issue has been complicated as to the existing agents conning money out of the prospective (New) agents who want to join the Business. Could I please get first-hand information from you on all the requirements so that I can gauge myself.

    Interested Party.
    +254723116413.

  6. I wish to become an MPESA agent(around donholm caltex area). Recently the issue has been complicated as to the existing agents conning money out of the prospective (New) agents who want to join the Business especially having an experience with this conwomen who have connections somewhere(unknown)and safaricom seems not to get in contact with this pple. Could I please get first-hand information from you on all the requirements so that I can gauge myself. I have been trying to browse in the net and see the requirements but seems i couldn’t connect.

  7. Hi, I would like to open an M-Pesa shop in a place that has none within and people are meant to walk long distance to access on. What do I need to do in order to become a registered m-pesa argent?
    My phone number is 0722430508 and my email address is chegejnr2001@yahoo.com.

    Thanks

  8. Pingback: 2010 in review… « The 411…

  9. last thursday i send money n asked it to be reversed. the customer care representative assured me it was going to be effective within 72hrs. today 17th january, 2011 at midday it hadnt. i make a follow to tha customer care and it just reflect at 7.30pm. why does it take such long to reverse tha wrongly send cash back to tha sender?

  10. I am South African and need to an
    M-pesa agent. So what can I do to become one. What are the requirements. Please assist me .

  11. I wish to open an m-pesa account for Karatina Catholic Church, which will be used as a tithe collection account. How can I go about it? Please reply. Thank you.

  12. Hi, i need to open an m-pesa shop in several towns in Kenya and i dont know the requirements or procedures to own one. please assist me. thank you.

  13. hi am a journalism student at uon and was given an assignment to write an essay on how m pesa works adressing it to my grand mother. am to explain what float is and why sometimes one cannot deposit or withdraw please help because its due on friday

    • AMPHOTRAK is the acronym for ASSOCIATION OF MOBILE PHONE MONEY TRANSFER AGENTS OF KENYA. It is the voice of the Agents in money transfer matters.Iam happy to attempt to answer you.
      “FLOAT” is the virtual or e-money in an agent’s phone line.The Agent has to have the value you want to deposit in their phone in order to transfer the same to your phone.
      For example: preceding your request, the agent’s float balance read shs. 20,000 and you require to deposit 21,000. It will not be possible because the only float available can deposit 20,000/- only.In the same breath, the agent might not have equivalent cash at hand of what you want to withdraw, mainly because the money is in the phone as float.
      When you withdraw using the agent number displayed at the outlet, you are in essence increasing the float with the same amount you withdraw and when you deposit, it is vice versa.

      Cheers,

      IKIGU KABBIE
      Ceo, AMPHOTRAK
      Tel. 0721 234723

  14. I just want to about the following issues;
    1-what are the essence of m-pesa in financial market?
    2-what are potentialities of M-PESA in financial market

  15. Can somebody please help me to get the Sim Swap code for safaricom. I know it satarts with *180*….. then nsomewhere you got to input the phone number , IMEI, amnd original pin. just forgot how to do it.

  16. Mpesa service +254720115121 money was withdrawn without my knowledge in kenya.reported to police and called safari com but all in vain .Any help?How do U regain this money?

  17. I have M-pesa Outlet and is not fully operational. I load money into my outlet account at Nedbank but does not get straight into outlet account, instead I have to phone and tell them that I deposited it and it takes many days to get through.

  18. I bought a an mpesa line from a person from a dealer whom i can not locate and or be reached at all,i suspect the person to a bad person but the line is working,what can i do with that line coz i can’t put the float? Edward Nairobi

  19. I need assistance on the same ,if i can be assisted,the better,i tried to do some follow up am yet assisted, i fear using the line coz the person purpoting to be dealer is nowhere and may be he’s watching me to be put float and empty it!!!!!!!!!! please help

  20. My phone model is HTC My Touch 3G and i have the problem of accessing the mpesa menu. What should i do to make the activation?

  21. hey i replaced my sim card a day ago and i have tried activating my m pesa account to no success,,the start up key i got when i first registered i forgot.what should i do?

  22. Hello i would like to start an M-pesa an area in Langalanga gilgil but the existing agent is asking me for 70k for her to get me a line…please assit me on that…how can get a line?and how much capital do i have to start with? THANK YOU

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