Developers launch PrivPay that allows anonymous M-Pesa transfers

By Elijah Odhiambo

M-Pesa users can now send money on the mobile app while hiding their personal information from the recipient, in a recent development meant to stop spamming and cases of identity theft.

M-Pesa transfer recipients would no longer have access to the sender’s name and phone number, thanks to an app called PrivPay, unveiled  by software company Siri Yangu Limited. The feature, according to the developer, will be especially useful for payments to charities and donations.

Siri Yangu product manager Sandra Mbuvi said the PrivPay comes in handy to help those who are reluctant to send money because they’re uncomfortable sharing their phone number or name with the recipient.

“In instances where one doesn’t have cash on them and is reluctant to send money because they’re uncomfortable sharing their phone number or name with the recipient, PrivPay comes in handy to help send money privately via M-Pesa,” Sandra Mbuvi said.

“With the growing interest in consumer and data protection solutions in Kenya, I believe this is such a timely innovation that will resonate with many who are keen on data privacy and safety, especially in mobile money transfers,” she added.

The service, which picks the funds for transfer from the user’s M-Pesa wallet and only acts as a payment transmitter, however, comes with an additional cost.

Transferring Ksh100 will for example cost a total of Ksh13 comprising Ksh4 collected by M-Pesa and Ksh9 charged by PrivPay. A similar transaction is free on the M-Pesa ecosystem.

Sending Ksh1000 via PrivPay attracts a fee of Ksh34. Doing the same via M-PESA to M-PESA costs Ksh12.

The PrivPay software, which is free to download for both Android and iOS, now only supports M-Pesa customers, but Siri Yangu has revealed intentions to expand the service to include Airtel Money and T-Kash in the near future.

When a transaction is successful, PrivPay sends the sender a message letting them know that the money has been delivered to the recipient, and M-Pesa sends a message letting them know that the user has made a payment to Siri Yangu Limited.

On the other side, the recipient gets two messages: one from PrivPay and one from M-Pesa.

None of the messages reveal the sender’s identity if they are able to describe the payment.

The use of mobile money has exposed users to leakage of their information including contacts which are used for mass marketing.

Rising cases of data breach in recent times giving way to spamming and scamming practices have pushed up the demand for data privacy and protection solutions, with techies engaging in an overdrive in efforts to match the contemporary trends.

Just as much as the cases of spamming and scamming have increased, so has the demand for data privacy and protection solutions. Reactive measures such as simply opting out of spamming promotional messages or blocking have helped but there’s a need for proactive measures that prevent personal information from being shared from the onset.


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