How to start & run a profitable Mpesa Agent Business in 2019


Ever thought about starting up an MPesa Agent Business? This article outlines all that you require to get started, the profit expectations plus the challenges you need to be prepared to handle.

The Giant Opportunity

MPesa has turned out to be the world’s largest mobile money network, one that has enabled millions of people across the world to gain access to safe and secure banking and money transfer solutions.

The M-Pesa model was a pioneering innovation for the African continent and is now used as a model for many other mobile money transfer systems around the world.

The MPesa model was a pioneering innovation for the African continent and is now used as a model for many other mobile money transfer systems around the world.

MPesa is a product that makes Safaricom stand out and continue growing every day as other financial sectors report perpetual loses. In the just recently released FY 2019 results, M-Pesa accounted for 75 percent of the overall growth for the company’s profits.

MPesa accounts for 31.2 percent of Safaricom’s service revenues due to new businesses marked by payments, savings and lending (M-Shwari, Fuliza and KCB MPesa) as well as online money transfers such as the newly launched  M-Pesa to PayPal.

Mobile money is now the norm in Kenya. With more than 30 million subscribers, Safaricom’s MPesa service remains the most popular choice for mobile money transfer. These numbers keep growing every day.

MPesa business is one of the most profitable small capital businesses in Kenya. In a good month, you can make as much as Ksh 50,000 depending on location and traffic flow.

These statistics, coupled with the immense profits generated from M-Pesa tells how a lucrative business opportunity MPesa is. Being an M-Pesa agent is indeed a good business choice.

So let’s get into the details of how to get started.

Requirements to Start an MPesa Agent Business

To run an MPesa shop, you will be required to get some few things done. Safaricom will ask for a few legal requirements.

1. Register a limited company: To operate an MPESA shop (some say to be an MPesa agent), you need to first register a limited company.

Previously, the process of registering a company in Kenya was quite challenging because it was lengthy, costly and tedious.

However, the registration process nowadays costs less, can be done in just three simple steps and the comfort of one’s house.

All you need to do is perform a name search and register your company name online on the eCitizen platform.

2. Establish 3 outlets: Safaricom requires that there are at least 3 outlets ready to offer MPESA under the company names.

The company also MUST have existed (and possibly traded) for a minimum period of 6 months.

This becomes a hurdle to someone intending to start up the M-Pesa shop immediately. There are options though, explained later in this article.

3. Business Permits required: You will then need to provide Safaricom with business permits for each of the MPesa outlets, VAT & tax compliance certificates, Identity Cards, banking license from a reputable financial institution and police clearance certificates.

4. Starting Capital required: On matters capital, you require a minimum investment of Sh 100,000  to act as M-Pesa float.

5  Once you submit your application forms and met all the requirements, you’ll be given a till number to start trading.

Types of MPesa Agent Outlets

Safaricom has two ways you can run your MPESA outlet, either as a standard outlet or as a sub-dealer.

Standard M-Pesa Outlet: This is the most recommended outlet since you have to go through the complete process above and be registered as an agent.

It allows you to keep the entire share of your commissions.

Sub-dealer M-Pesa outlet: Operating as a sub-dealer is much more affordable than registering as an agent.

However, you will need to work under a licensed agent by buying their MPESA line and paying them a commission for using their lines.

For sub-dealers, you only need a float of Ksh.20,000 – Ksh. 40,000.

Truth be told having to register a company and all the bureaucracies, costs involved; it will take many months to set up which is unreasonable for small starters.

Only one option is therefore left, which is getting an Mpesa line from an already registered company at a small commission per month.

Think about it like someone leasing his/her Mpesa line to you and you will be sharing the gains every month when you get paid by Safaricom.

This option is easier and much better, allowing you to start the business as soon as immediately.

Over time, there developed a number of conflicts with this easy method.

Issues such as unwarranted blocking of your line by your principal, delays in remittances of your commission and lower commission percentages for the sub-dealer business.

Another issue was uncalled for the delay in remittances of commissions by super agents to the sub-dealers.

Aggregated Safaricom Mpesa lines

Aggregated lines were Safaricom’s solution to fraudulent super-agents who claimed extra commissions percentages other than the Safaricom’s recommended.

Both existing and new Mpesa agents are eligible to get aggregated Mpesa lines.

Changing to the aggregated line will not only guarantee higher commissions for your till but also timely payment of commissions normally by 1st or 2nd of a new month.

If you are a new agent, you do not want to go for a lesser deal by getting a non-aggregated line.

Benefits of aggregated M-Pesa lines

Higher Commissions – Aggregated MPesa lines will give you will get the recommended Safaricom split commissions percentage i.e. 80% for you and 20% for your principal.

Comparing this with the lesser 40% for non-aggregated lines, this is the best for you.

Direct and timely payment of commission by Safaricom – With aggregated lines, you receive your commissions directly from Safaricom into your working account by 1st of a new month.

You don’t have to wait for your principal to reimburse commissions.

Faster, formal conflict resolutions – Aggregated lines have the benefit of being a formal arrangement with your principal agent.

In instances where conflicts arise between you and your principal, resolution is easily done. This would not be the case with non aggregated Mpesa lines where the arrangement is informal.

For instance, some uncouth principals might feel that their leased lines are getting less commissions than they anticipated and might want to reclaim them without your approval, an informal agreement is dangerous in such cases.

Float Management – Aggregated lines come with a float management feature that allows you to simply manage your line/till.

For instance, you have an option of getting cash from super agents(banks, certified super agents, Mpesa outlets) by exchanging excess e-float with cash and vice versa.

This is very economical for you as an agent since it gives you a cheap way to balance and manage money in your till.

Mpesa Agents Commissions and profits

Here is how it works: Agents earn a commission from Safaricom whenever they make deposits or withdrawals for their clients.

Although Mpesa deposits to clients are free, Safaricom still pays commissions to Mpesa agents performing this service.

When a customer withdraws money, Safaricom will deduct a withdrawal fee. This fee is shared by Safaricom, the principal-agent, and the sub-agent.

As such sub-agents situated at strategic locations with the higher traffic of clients end up making a higher number of transactions; hence, earn more commission.

The amount of commission you will get in the M-Pesa business can be as low as Ksh. 4 per transaction.

This implies that your business must be able to attract many people in order to fetch substantial commissions.

MPesa Commissions 2019

Safaricom revises the commission rates from time to time, something they will faithfully communicate to all agents.

Early this year (2019), the Mpesa commission structure was revised to ensure that agents get better rewards on high-value transactions.

This was also a targeted incentive for agents to hold adequate float. As a result, deposit commissions were increased by 12% – 170% across the bands as seen in the table below.

Safaricom also introduced a lower band of Kshs 10 – Kshs 49 for transfers and micropayments to enable more Kenyans to use the services.

Safaricom then added an additional 11 transaction bands to curb split and direct deposits for which agents previously suffered serious penalties through unscrupulous agent assistants.

When end month comes, its time to share the plunder. Your commission as an agent is paid to the MMF account of the company less 5% withholding tax.

You are then at liberty to withdraw the cash or transfer it to your float account.

M-Pesa Agents Commissions 2019

In the 2018/19 financial year alone, Safaricom paid a total of Ksh 22 billion in M-Pesa commissions to its over 167,000 agents.

The commissions paid out are 12 percent higher than last year and represent the highest payout made in recent years.

The company also paid out another Ksh 11 billion in commissions to airtime vendors, down from Ksh 11.4 billion paid out the previous year on account of more consumers purchasing airtime from their M-Pesa accounts.

M-Pesa Agent Challenges

Mpesa has become a relatively flooded business. MPESA shops are now almost found everywhere, on every street corner and this makes it a very competitive venture.

Running an MPESA shop doesn’t really make you an outright entrepreneur.

Technically speaking, Safaricom remains your employer, with whom you must share your profits, even after ‘allowing’ them determine the amount of profit to be shared.

The bureaucracies that one must adhere to are a major hurdle to many.

For instance, although the process of registering a company has now been simplified, not many people can afford the required registration fee.

There are also strict guidelines that one is expected to adhere to as an MPESA agent.

Running an MPESA agent shop may pose a security risk since it attracts burglars.

Here is a quick recap:

Safaricom’s M Pesa service remains the most popular choice for mobile money transfer in Kenya. Running an Mpesa agent business is therefore a great choice.

To operate an MPESA shop, you need to first register a limited company, establish 3 outlets and submit the required documents for consideration.

Always be careful when looking for an Mpesa agent line. Be keen to ensure its an aggregated line. This will help you get higher commissions direct from Safaricom and on time.

Being situated at strategic locations with the higher traffic of clients will help you make more transactions; hence, more commissions.

Be careful with fraudsters. They can easily and instantly kill your business.


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