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Merchants in Kenya who accept payments through M-PESA will now be able to settle their deposits within seconds, due to a new service launched by Safaricom and Standard Chartered

Many businesses in the African nation accept M-PESA payments from their customers. Under the current system, these merchants settle their deposits accounts manually with their banks, using the RTGS system. This process takes a minimum of six hours, sometimes much longer, for the money to actually reach the merchants’ accounts. The new service will allow real-time settlement of money received through M-PESA transactions in to merchants’ accounts.

Lamin Manjang from Standard Chartered told reporters that the fast settlement service will be open to all merchants who hold accounts with the bank.

“We are giving competitive advantage to clients of the bank,” he said. “With the solution that we have, the merchant gets the money almost in real time.”

He added that providing merchants with the speed to cash out their payments will greatly enhance their businesses by giving them access to more liquidity.

The partnership will also change the limits on the amount of money that can be received by merchants in one transaction. On the lower side, merchants can now receive as little as US$0.01, down from the earlier minimum requirement of about US$340. On the higher side, single transactions of up to US$488,000 will be allowed, up from the earlier cap of US$48,800.

In its financial report for the last year announced in May this year, Safaricom had reported that by March 2015, it had 49,413 M-PESA merchants active on a 30-day basis who were receiving about US$113mn of payments monthly.

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