The Central Bank of Kenya reintroduced transaction charges for mobile money wallet and bank account transactions effective 1st January 2023. These charges had been waived on March 16, 2020 as part of a raft of emergency measures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The banks restored the charges accordingly, however, the actual rates vary from bank to bank. This should come as no surprise, since bank fees are one of the primary mediums by which commercial banks make their revenue. Consequently, each bank has a unique tariff regime for their bank to mobile money wallet transactions.
As is the norm, most banks have published these tariffs on their websites for their customers to refer to. In the case of Equity group, however, the published charges are grossly misleading as they don’t include government taxes. In their defence, they do include a note in the document that the rates are exclusive of taxes.
Nevertheless, it’s plainly obvious that very few customers will take note of this piece of information or, more likely, interpret it as it ought to.
Furthermore, the note itself is more or less pointless in so far as it doesn’t provide any information regarding what exactly is being taxed (i.e. is it the transacted amount or the transaction charge?) and the percentage of tax, so that anyone who is up to the task can do their calculations and arrive at the total transaction charge.
This seems to point to an attempt by the bank to imply the charges are lesser than what they actually are. If indeed this is the case, this should be considered as nothing out of the ordinary — it’s a well known fact that financial institutions thrive on obscurity by means of artifices such as the use of unnecessary financial jargon, incomplete information, hidden clauses and overly complex services etc.
In this particular case, Equity bank has deliberately published charges without the 20% excise duty levied by the government. This duty is charged on the commission the bank makes from the transaction and NOT the amount being sent. This should explain why the rates vary by wide margins across different banks, with some such as I&M Bank going as far as to waiver the charges completely despite CBKs announcement.
As you can imagine, this has left many Equity customers feeling as though they are being cheated by their bank. Evidence of this can be easily found in the many queries and complaints in relation to this mismatch on their Twitter page.
In a rather untactful way, the bank’s support responds to these customers by either insisting that the final charge is displayed before completing the transaction (duh), or by simply reiterating that the published rates are exclusive of the 20% excise duty.
All these makes one wonder — wouldn’t it be far practical and certainly more efficient to publish the final charges rather than have to deal with a flood of queries on this particular issue. It almost seems as if by doing that they’ll be admitting to some kind of wrongdoing, which is rather absurd because the longer this persists the more disgruntled customers they have to deal with in the near future.
Anyway, here are the actual “top secret” charges that for some reason they don’t want you to see.
Equity to M-PESA Transaction Charges
|Transfer Amount (Kshs)||Bank Charge (Kshs)|
The above charges are as of April 12th 2023.
Note: Though they don’t mention it, it’s safe to assume that the charges are, as they say, “subject to change without any notice”. Therefore, make sure to pay close attention to the charges before confirming a transaction to avoid any rude surprises.