The High Court Thursday stopped the reintroduction of charges for mobile money wallets and bank transactions.
The court issued the orders pending the hearing and determination of a petition challenging the reintroduction of the charges by mobile money operators.
The matter has been scheduled for mention on January 23, 2023.
A petitioner, Moses Wafula, argued the reintroduction of charges for mobile money wallets and bank transactions is a violation of his rights and that of members of the public.
“The Applicant contends that his rights and the rights of other members of the public have been violated, infringed and continue to be threatened by the 1st Respondent herein and the Government of Kenya in view of the directive issued by the Intended 3rd Respondent on 6th December 2022,” reads part of the court documents.
The petition was filed last year after a notice was issued by the Central Bank of Kenya announcing the reintroduction of the charges effective January 1, 2023.
The petitioner argued unless the court suspends the reintroduction of the charges pending the conclusion of the matter, it would be difficult to refund the collected monies in the event the court rules in his favour.
“If the Banks continue riding on this Mpesa Paybill infrastructure, making money from members of the public, then in the event that this honourable court finds this M-Pesa paybill platform in contravention of the constitution and various statutory provisions, the impact will be higher; more funds from the members of the public would have been lost and it may be a lot more difficult to ask the banks to refund such funds collected from the members of the public,” adds the documents.
Safaricom, the Attorney General, Central Bank of Kenya, the Treasury Cabinet Secretary and the Competition Authority of Kenya are listed as the respondents respectively.
On December 6 last year, the CBK said the charges were set to be restored from January 1, 2023, following discussions and lobbying between the CBK, banks and payment service providers with the latter two groups pushing for the fees’ return.
The payment service providers (PSPs) and banks however agreed to revise the maximum charges on the transactions following consultations with the CBK.
The charges were waived on March 16, 2020, as part of the government’s emergency measures to facilitate the use of mobile money to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country.