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Central Bank of Kenya Launches Standardized QR Code for Digital Payments

On Wednesday, the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) announced the release of the Kenya Quick Response (QR) Code Standard 2023, which is a set of guidelines for Payment Service Providers, banks, and other regulated institutions on issuing QR codes for digital payments. The launch was done in collaboration with Safaricom, Equity Bank, ABSA, KCB, Co-operative Bank, Visa, Mastercard, PesaPal, and FSD Kenya.

QR codes are a type of barcode that can be read by machines and contain information for digital payments. According to CBK, the use of standardized QR code-enabled payments will provide practical benefits to businesses and customers, making digital payments easy, fast, convenient, and secure. This will eliminate the need for manual input of different payment codes and numbers, reducing friction and cumbersome payment processes that are prone to errors.

The Standard will also promote inclusion by enabling institutions of various sizes and customer focus to increase the adoption of digital payments. The CBK expects that the use of standardized QR codes will lead to the launch of innovative products and deepen the benefits already enjoyed by customers making payments across various institutions and mobile money networks.

The release of the Standard is a significant milestone in the implementation of the National Payments Strategy 2022-2025, which provides a framework to guide the current and future of payment services. Kenya joins other leading markets such as the Philippines, Jordan, South Africa, Singapore, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, India, and China in adopting a standardized approach to issuing QR codes for facilitating payments.

The Standard will be rolled out in phases, allowing participating players to align their operations with the requirements set out in the Standard and increase customer awareness. Overall, the launch of the QR code standard is expected to bring practical benefits to businesses and customers alike while promoting financial inclusion and innovation.

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