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KCB Bank bets on Tap To Pay to deepen uptake of cashless payments in Kenya


Tap To Pay is a concept that Kenyans have not really been accustomed to. As much as customers are gradually focusing on making contactless payments for many of their daily transactions, leading players in the country are still lagging behind.

Safaricom once trialled the service back in 2021 with M-PESA 1Tap which was the quickest way to pay using MPESA. The service ended up dying a natural death. 

Market.us predicts that Tap To Pay and other forms of contactless payments are estimated to be valued at USD 90.6 billion by 2032 from USD 22.4 billion in 2022 and is expected to exhibit a CAGR of 15.4% during the forecast period 2023 to 2032. 

In Kenya, KCB Banks now wants a share of this market. The bank has partnered with Visa and Thales to allow its customers with Android handsets and Garmin wearables to make contactless payment transactions.

The new Tap To Pay service allows customers to make in-store payments through the KCB App by tapping their Near-field communication (NFC) enabled smartphones at any contactless-enabled payment terminal.

The service is powered by Thales, a leader in digital security and leverages Visa’s tokenization capability to enable KCB customers to enjoy a new level of convenience, no longer needing a card or a physical wallet when transacting.

“Eliminating the need for a dedicated terminal and enabling the merchant to use their cellphone to accept card payments is revolutionary and a significant game changer within the digital payments ecosystem”. KCB Bank Ag. Director of Retail Banking Michael Kungu said. 

“Through our partnership with Thales and Visa, we are looking at supporting the financial inclusion agenda and helping businesses deliver new and best-in-class contactless consumer experiences using a device they already own: a smartphone,” he added.

Due to advances in NFC, RFID, and biometric authentication, contactless payments have become safer and more feasible, allowing this industry to expand.

Visa Kenya Country Manager, Eva Ngigi-Sarwari, said the payments firm is continuously working with its partners in the banking sector to enable new and enhanced experiences for consumers. ‘’We congratulate KCB for pioneering this technology in Kenya which we believe will offer customers secure, and convenient payment experiences. It builds on the work we have done to expand contactless payments, which has grown substantially over the last three years. This milestone is also indicative of the continued investment Visa is making in safe, reliable, and seamless digital payments as part of our mission to help individuals, businesses, and economies thrive.”

With a growing number of digital wallets for mobile payments at store and in-app,  Nassir Ghrous, Vice President for Sales in South Europe, Middle-East & Africa Banking and Payment Services at Thales, said banks and eMerchants are increasingly adopting secure tokenization services to offer innovative and secured payment solutions to their customers. ‘’We are proud to work with KCB and Visa Kenya to roll out this technology for the first time in Kenya.”

The growing preference for the use of cards to make payments is evident by the latest statistics by Central Bank Kenya (CBK) which indicate that the use of bank cards to shop for goods and services hit a record high at 4.4 million transactions by May 2022 from a low of 676,275 transactions in August 2014. The trend indicates increased consumer spending and the attractiveness of the convenience of the payment option.

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Nixon Kanali

Tech journalist based in Nairobi. I track and report on tech and African startups. Founder and Editor of TechTrends Media. Nixon is also the East African tech editor for Africa Business Communities. Send tips to nkanali@techtrendske.co.ke.

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