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Kenya Cards & Payments Market Report

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  • Published Date: December 2017


This report provides is a comprehensive overview of the cards, payments and consumer banking market in Kenya.
Kenya is considered to be the economic, industrial and logistical hub of East Africa. It has increasingly led many transnational companies, such as Mastercard, to locate their regional headquarters in the capital city, Nairobi.
About 23 retail banks – including major issuers KCB, COBK and Barclays Kenya – currently offer Visa-branded credit cards in the country. The partnership with so many issuing banks explains Visa's dominant position in the credit card networks market.
Mastercard held a slightly higher proportion of debit card billed volume, with a six per cent estimated market share. Mastercard branded debit cards have only been issued in the Kenyan market since 2009, which explains the network's low market share.


  • There has been robust growth in banking assets since 2009, increasing from $12.6 billion to an estimated $36.7 billion in 2017.
  • The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) passed a regulation in August 2016 capping, at four per cent above the benchmark interest rate, the maximum interest rate charged by the banks for a credit facility.
  • Credit cards are not popular in Kenya; credit card penetration stood at an estimated one card per 100 adults in 2017.
  • The payment cards market in the country is dominated by debit cards, which accounted for 91 per cent of all payment cards in issue at the end of 2017.
  • The fact that one in every ten mobile money transactions carried out in the world takes place in Kenya indicates the significance of mobile money in this market.
  • The average adult in Kenya made 57 mobile money transactions in 2016 compared to just eight card transactions.
  • Visa dominates the Kenyan credit cards market, with an estimated market share of 90 per cent of cards in issue at the end of 2017.
  • At the end of 2017, there were an estimated 15 million Visa-branded debit cards in issue in Kenya, representing a share of 95 per cent.
  • Barclays Kenya and the Co-operative Bank of Kenya (COBK) are the leading credit card issuers in Kenya. They had an estimated market share of 44 per cent and 27 per cent, respectively, in 2017.
  • New POS installations use GPRS mobile data technology and reduce downtime compared to older, landline-based systems. This has helped boost merchant and consumer confidence in payment cards and support growth in merchant acceptance points.

Kenya Payments Market | Report Contents

The economy
Retail banking
Consumer finance market
Cards market
Profit pool
Pricing and enhancements
The networks: credit cards
The networks: debit cards
Merchant acquiring and processing
Online acquiring
Regulatory and other cards market information

Appendix I: Demographics

  • Population metrics
  • Ownership of key consumer goods
  • Internet usage by population

Appendix II: The economy

  • Major economic indicators

Appendix III: Retail banking

  • Major retail banking indicators
  • Banking/infrastructure penetration
  • Retail banks key metrics
  • Retail banks profit & loss metrics

Appendix IV: Consumer finance market

  • Consumer credit outstandings and indebtedness
  • Consumer credit outstandings by product

Appendix V: Cards market

  • Credit card numbers
  • Total credit card metrics
  • Consumer credit cards metrics
  • Commercial credit cards metrics
  • Credit cards profitability Indicators
  • Debit card numbers
  • Debit cards metrics

Appendix VI: E-money

  • Prepaid/e-money cards metrics
  • Mobile money metrics

Appendix VII: Profit pool

  • Profit pool

Appendix VIII: Pricing and enhancements

  • Card pricing and enhancements

Appendix IX: The networks: credit cards

  • Networks' credit card market shares
  • Networks' credit card numbers
  • Networks' credit card billed volume
  • Networks' number of credit card transactions
  • Networks' average credit card transaction value
  • Credit card interchange fees by network

Appendix X: The networks: debit cards

  • Networks' debit card market shares
  • Networks' debit card numbers
  • Networks' debit card billed volume
  • Networks' number of debit card transactions
  • Networks' average debit card transaction value

Appendix XI: Card issuers

  • Key credit card issuers market shares by credit card numbers
  • Key issuers market shares in credit card outstandings
  • Key debit card Issuers market shares by debit card numbers
  • Mobile money issuers: market share of subscriptions and agents
  • Mobile money issuers: market share of mobile commerce and P2P transfers

Appendix XII: Merchant acquiring and processing

  • Merchant acquirer credit card market share
  • Credit card merchant service charges
  • Merchant acquirer debit card market share
  • Debit card merchant service charges
  • Credit card issuer/issuing processor relationships
  • Credit card acquirer/acquiring processor relationships
  • Credit card issuing processor market shares by card numbers
  • Credit card acquiring processor market shares by the number of POS transactions

Appendix XIII: Online acquiring

  • Online merchant acquirer market share

Kenya Country Report | Selected Extracts

Demographics and Economy
Kenya is the seventh-largest country by population in the African continent and is considered to be the economic, industrial and logistical hub of East Africa. The country has experienced dramatic population growth as a result of its high birth rate and declining mortality rate.

Payments Environment
At the end of September 2017, Kenya had 42 commercial banks, 13 microfinance institutions and one mortgage finance company operating in the country. These institutions are regulated by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), which sets regulations, including minimum liquidity ratios and cash reserve ratios

Cards market
Kenya is still a cash-based society, but cash usage has been slowly declining, from 94 percent in 2014 down to an estimated 88 percent in 2017, primarily due to the significant growth of mobile money during the last few years.

Mobile Payments
The launch of several mobile money deployments and widespread access to mobile devices has enabled consumers in Kenya to pay bills, receive cash from local merchants, and send money to their families without having to step into a bank branch.

Profit Pool
Credit cards are not very popular in Kenya – credit card penetration stood at only about one card per 100 adults in 2017. A number of factors have hindered credit card issuing growth in Kenya, including low credit limits and a small pool of eligible customers.

Card Networks:
Visa dominates the Kenyan credit cards market, with an estimated market share of 90% of cards in issue at the end of 2017, or approximately 223,000 cards. Debit cards are used predominantly at ATMs. Cardholders typically withdraw cash from the ATM and then transact using cash. Debit cards face fierce competition from mobile money deployments, particularly M-Pesa.

Key Retail Banks and Issuers
Barclays Kenya and COBK are the leading credit card issuers in Kenya. They had an estimated market share of 44% and 27%, respectively in 2017. The leading debit card issuers were Equity Bank (with a market share of 31%) and KCB (21%).

Acquiring and Processing
Merchant acquiring in Kenya is a small yet growing market. Traditionally it has been held back by a POS infrastructure that was limited. New POS installations ... helped boost merchant and consumer confidence. Most credit card issuing banks have their own in-house processing centres
for card transactions.

Online Acquiring
Popular e-commerce websites in Kenya are Jumia, Kilimall, Konga and OLX. Cash on delivery is the most popular payment method in Kenya; however, in the past few years, many transactions are paid for using mobile money like M-Pesa, and Airtel money.

Regulatory and Markets Information
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) is the supervisory authority of the financial market in Kenya. The CBK is responsible for authorising, supervising and regulating Kenyan banks and their business activities


Financial reports include detailed market and competitor intelligence on payments cards, e-money, acquiring, retail banking, and consumer credit in Africa. Analysts use primary and secondary source data and conduct in-depth interviews with senior industry executives and Africa finance experts.

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