Following on the heels of the spirited M-Banking 2009 conference in Nairobi in late May, the Minister of Finance just introduced three bills into Parliament to resolve some of the key issues that generated debate. The bills include:
* an anti-money laundering (AML) provision
* an anti-Ponzi scheme provision
* a provision to allow banks to engage in “branchless banking”
The branchless banking provision was a bone of contention for the banks, which claimed that Safaricom’s M-PESA had an unfair advantage in being allowed to set up agents far and wide without government approval, while banks needed to jump through a number of regulatory hoops to open even a bricks-and-mortar branch. The anti money laundering and anti-Ponzi provisions were in response to cries for enhanced consumer protection in what is fast becoming a Wild West new banking frontier.
If the bills become law, it will be interesting to see if the banks take advantage of their new freedom, and whether they can move fast enough to keep up with a dynamic technology company such as Safaricom, whose CEO Michael Joseph is best-known and most admired CEO in the land.