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Central Bank of Kenya Issues QR Code Standards to Boost Digital Payments

The Central Bank of Kenya has announced the release of the Kenya Quick Response Code Standard 2023, which will serve as a guide for banks, telcos, and other payment service providers in issuing Quick Response (QR) codes. The QR codes are an improved version of traditional barcodes, providing additional information that facilitates digital payments to mobile phones. The adoption of QR codes is aimed at promoting digital payments in Kenya and is aligned with the CBK’s National Payment Strategy, which aims to provide a framework for current and future payment services, supporting financial inclusion and innovations that benefit the Kenyan people.

By adopting QR codes, merchants and customers are expected to benefit from the convenience they provide. Customers will be able to scan the QR codes to make payments to merchants who will provide the codes at payment points, resulting in a simple onboarding process for merchants with low infrastructure costs, guaranteed funds, and lower risk exposure. Additionally, the adoption of QR codes will provide merchants with the potential for new sales and the ability to offer new services, such as loyalty and rewards.

QR codes provide a simple non-cash alternative with greater protection, and safety, and an easy-to-use payment solution for customers. At the merchant point of sale, customers will be presented with the option to pay using a QR code, which can be scanned using their smartphone applications provided by payment service providers.

The adoption of QR codes is part of a larger push for interoperability and modern payment solutions, which has been largely supported by fintech advancements. The CBK’s data from February 2023 shows that total registered mobile money accounts reached 74.04 million while active agents amounted to 323,613. Meanwhile, the value of mobile-money transactions for that month was Sh578.09 billion.

The CBK’s vision is to establish a secure, fast, efficient, and collaborative payment system that supports financial inclusion and innovations benefiting the Kenyan people. Last year, the CBK facilitated mobile-money interoperability, allowing Airtel and Telkom Kenya subscribers to pay for goods and services through Safaricom’s till number. The CBK has also been advocating for rival networks to gain access to Safaricom’s pay-bill platform.

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