The Postal Corporation of Kenya (Posta) has invested Ksh100 million in rolling out national payment switch that will see financial institutions share payment infrastructure and capitalise on PCK’s expansive network of over 600 offices that will offer Agency services.
Besides linking banks’ Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and Point of Sale (POS) terminals in order to avoid the duplication of expensive infrastructure resources, the switch will enable Posta automate its payment services.
“KCB, Credit Bank, ABC Bank and Faulu Kenya are already on board. We have also been an agent of utility companies like Kenya Power, Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company and DStv among others, the Switch will mean more capacity and thus more transaction commissions,” says Dr. Enock Kinara, the Post Master General.
The switch which will go live before the end of the year will see Posta automate all its transactions, including back office reconciliation of transactions which is presently manual. Posta, on behalf of the Government, remits about Ksh500 million in cash every two months to about 350,000 beneficiaries; mainly orphans, pensioners and widows.
“Instead of having our customers lining up under heavy security to collect cash, now these 350,000 individuals will just need a PostaPay card which they can swipe at any of our outlets to withdraw their dues” says Titus Juma, the Posta General Manager, Financial and Agency Services.
The switch, said Dr. Kinara, would enable Posta leverage on technology to accelerate financial inclusion of Kenyans in far flung regions which remain inaccessible by conventional banking channels.
He said the investment in a switch “is in line with the spirit of touching lives and that of the Universal Service Obligation of offering citizens basic communication as mandated by the UN.”
“The technology offers an array of infinite transaction possibilities, from mobile wallets, credit and debit cards to USSD,” explained Dr. Kinara. USSD is a Global System for Mobile (GSM) communication technology that is used to send text between a mobile phone and an application program in the network.
USSD can be used for WAP browsing, prepaid callback service, mobile-money services, location-based content services and menu-based information services. Posta is equally seeking approval from the Communication Commission of Kenya to provide wireless internet service in 93 offices country, 22 of which will be new.
Posta presently offers mail, courier financial and agency services. As the public postal licensee, the Corporation however still offers post office letter boxes service, issuance of postage stamps and conveyance of letters up to 350 grammes exclusively.
Dr. Kinara said the investment was part of re-engineering its operations to compete in dynamic business ecosystem where disruptive technologies are consistently necessitating continued business innovation.
“We’ve seen products like M-Pesa, the mobile cash transfer service, change the way we transact. For instance our electronic funds transfer service, PostaPay was very successful raking in about Ksh400 million a year in commissions until the advent of M-Pesa.”
The new service, said Dr. Kinara, is complaint with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard which is an information security standard for organizations that handle cardholder information for the major debit, credit, prepaid, e-purse, ATM, and POS cards.
The standard was created to increase controls around cardholder data to reduce credit card fraud via its exposure. Mr Kinara said this is consistent with Posta’s mission “to deliver superior financial, distribution and communication solutions” to its customers, while creating value for stakeholders.