Mobile money transfers

An M-Pesa agent carries out a transaction. 

| File | Nation Media Group

Safaricom to surrender unclaimed M-Pesa cash

 Have you lost your loved one or did you change your number and forgot to withdraw your money from the old M-Pesa line in the switchover?

Then you could be among thousands of Kenyans whose cash is about to be transferred to the Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority (UFAA) from today by leading mobile service provider, Safaricom.

The Nation has learnt that more than Sh200 million held in M-Pesa accounts now risks being transferred to Ufaa as the telco races against time to reconcile the millions of shillings held in dormant mobile wallets.

The firm says since June when it started the exercise to encourage its customers to withdraw money, they had either forgotten in their old Safaricom lines or those of their dead relatives, sitting on Sh266 million in unclaimed assets.

"At the start of the exercise back in June, we had Sh266 million in unclaimed assets, some of which had already been claimed once we notified customers,” Safaricom said in a statement to the Nation yesterday.

Withdraw funds

But as the deadline for withdrawing the funds expired yesterday, the company said it was continuing to deal with the headache of identifying deceased customers, in the cases where the next of kin did not show up.

“We are not able to identify deceased customers unless their next of kin file a claim with us. In instances where funds for such persons have already been submitted to the Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority, they can then lodge the process with the authority,” the telco said.

There are also those who changed lines and simply forgot about their money in M-Pesa.

But the expiry of the withdrawal window now means that from today, those that have not claimed their money will have to file their request with the financial assets authority, which is a more complex process.

For the past few weeks, the telco has been running a campaign asking its customers to claim M-Pesa from your previous number.

To get the money, one had to dial *405# by August 30, 2021 and then from this cutoff date, the telco said it would send what is unclaimed to Ufaa.

Private firms

By the time of going to press, the telco had not finished reconciling what remained unclaimed.

Private firms and State agencies are required by law to report and surrender unclaimed financial assets on or before November 1 every year. Holders are also encouraged to file nil returns if applicable.

The law allows the Ufaa to charge any entity that fails to surrender unclaimed assets a penalty equivalent to 25 percent of the assets held.

Besides, the authority levies a penalty of between Sh7,000 and Sh50,000 for each day that the assets stayed before being submitted.

The law requires the holding company to search for the rightful owners of an asset before declaring it unclaimed and forwarding it to the Ufaa.

Ufaa in March revealed the idle assets stood at Sh51.4 billion in December 2020, up from Sh43 billion in June, reflecting a growth of 19 percent.