Kenya Launches Standardized QR Code System to Facilitate Digital Payments
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has announced the issuance and implementation of a new standard, the Kenya Quick Response Code Standard 2023. This standard will guide how Payment Service Providers and banks regulated by the CBK will issue Quick Response (QR) Codes to businesses and consumers accepting digital payments.
QR codes are machine-readable codes containing information that provide an alternative way of initiating and accepting digital payments made by customers at various points of sale. They are arrays of black and white squares that are scanned by customers using their mobile phones to initiate payments. Customers will now be able to make digital payments in an easy, fast, convenient, and secure manner using QR codes. Previously, customers had to manually input different payment codes and numbers, creating friction and cumbersome payment processes that are prone to errors.
According to the regulator, the standard will promote inclusion by enabling institutions of various sizes and customer focus to increase the adoption of digital payments. In the long-term, use of standardized QR Codes will facilitate the launch of innovative products and deepen the benefits already enjoyed by customers making payments across various institutions and mobile money networks.
The KE-QR Code Standard 2023 is based on the EMVCo QR Code Specification and has been developed through collaboration between CBK, Payment Service Providers, banks, card schemes, among others. The Standard will be rolled out in a phased approach as these players align their operations to requirements set out in the Standard and increase customer awareness.
The regulator said the issuance of the Standard marks an important step in the implementation of the National Payments Strategy 2022 – 2025. The Strategy was launched in February 2022 to support the adoption of key standards and align Kenya’s National Payment System to global best practice. With the launch of the QR Standard, Kenya is joining other leading markets that have implemented the standardized approach to issuing QR codes for facilitating payments. These countries include, Philippines, Jordan, South Africa, Singapore, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, India, and China.
The new standard will ensure that QR Codes issued by Payment Service Providers and banks conform to a uniform format and are interoperable with other institutions and mobile money networks. The CBK hopes that implementation of a standardized QR Code system will also promote competition and innovation among Payment Service Providers and banks, leading to better services for customers.