The M-PESA CEO, Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, has revealed that the mobile money giant will be looking to cooperate with the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) in its journey of rolling out a Kenyan Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).
The apex bank released a discussion paper in February 2022 outlining its initial thoughts about what its CBDC would look like while seeking comments from players and the public on the CBDC.
Sitoyo indicated that its mobile money service, which is deeply entrenched in Kenya’s financial system, has a tradition of involving the regulator every way of the journey in its innovations.
As such, the company is studying the discussion paper and is yet to submit its comments concerning the CBDC and actually going to cooperate and share knowledge with CBK.
In particular, the CEO indicated that MPESA could come in handy in discussions over interoperability with the CBDC.
According to Sitoyo, M-PESA, which transacts over half of Kenya’s GDP, is already a digital currency in its own right:
“M-PESA is already e-money. For every 2 shilling coin, there is a digital 1 shilling equivalent (CBDC).”
– CEO, M-PESA
CBK’s discussion paper outlines the possible variations of a digital Kenyan shilling as well as the feasibility and risks involved. In addition, the discussion paper highlights the role that mobile money has played within the retail ecosystem within Kenya and sees no real value in a retail CBDC.
However, there are possible benefits to having a cross-border CBDC which would then feed into the retail mobile money ecosystem within the country, according to the CBK governor.