How to open a M-PESA account

How to open a M-PESA account

What is M-PESA?

M-PESA Kenya is an electronic mobile money service that allows you to store, send and receive money on your mobile phone. With an M-PESA account, you can transfer cash and shop for products and services. You can also withdraw cash by visiting an agent (typically in a corner shop) or transfer it to others from your phone. This makes it a quick, safe and simple way to make payments and handle money.

Key facts about M-PESA

  • M-Pesa is one of the innovative tools that’s been born out of a collaboration of telecommunications and banking sectors in East Africa
  • It was launched in Kenya and is now used in 10 countries, including India and Romania.  
  • New technology in the financial sector has made it possible for financial services and products, like M-Pesa, to be accessible at small costs.
  • M-Pesa makes it possible for unbanked people to pay for and receive goods and services using a mobile phone instead of utilising a brick-and-mortar bank

How does M-PESA work?

M-PESA is a virtual banking system (mobile money service) that offers transaction services through a SIM card on a mobile phone. In Kenya this must be with a Safaricom SIM card. The SIM card is inserted into the card slot of the mobile device and users can receive and store money, as well as make payments and transfer money to vendors and family members using SMS messages.

It’s particularly useful to users who have no bank accounts and live in remote rural areas. They are able to access the numerous M-PESA outlets distributed across the country. Money that needs to be stored is given to the kiosk attendant, who transfers the amount in digital form to their M-PESA account that sits on their phone.

How do I open a M-PESA account?

Registration

To open an M-PESA account you must register first by visiting an M-PESA agent outlet, Safaricom shop or Care Desk to register. You’ll need a mobile phone with a Safaricom SIM card and valid identification document, which can be:

  • Kenyan National ID
  • Valid Kenyan Passport
  • Valid Foreign Passport
  • Kenya Military ID
  • Kenyan Foreigner Certificate

Please note that valid foreign passports, Kenya Military ID and Foreigner Certificate must be registered at a Safaricom shop or Care Desk as the Agent can only register users with Kenyan passports or National ID.

You’ll receive a confirmation message and numeric start key PIN to activate M-PESA on your phone. Then you and the agent will fill in and sign a registration form – which you’ll keep as proof of registration.

Activation

After successfully registering, you’ll need to activate M-PESA on your phone using the 4-digit M-PESA PIN sent by SMS after registration.

Here’s how:

Go to the SAFARICOM menu on your phone and:

  • Select M-PESA menu, then select Activate
  • Enter the M-PESA PIN received via SMS
  • Create your own secret PIN (4-digit number) and confirm it
  • Enter ID number – same one used during registration
  • On successful activation, you’ll receive a confirmation message with your balance

With the M-PESA menu on your phone, under Safaricom, you can now store, send and receive money and airtime using your mobile phone. You can buy items in shops or online, pay bills, school fees, and top up mobile airtime. You can also withdraw cash at authorised agents.

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