Coronavirus: MTN to waive mobile money fees; Kenyan banks to offer relief to distressed borrowers

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MTN Uganda has proposed to waive fees on its on-net mobile money transactions below Ugx. 30,000 effective Thursday, 19th March 2020.
This comes amid the looming coronavirus pandemic which already affecting Uganda’s neighbours [Kenya, Tanzania, DRC, and Rwanda]

‘‘Three additional coronavirus cases have been identified, bringing the total confirmed number to 11, the Ministry of Health Rwanda said in a statement.
While in Kenya, On Wednesday, the country confirmed three more cases of the virus, bringing the total number to seven.
MTN Uganda, CEO Win Vanhellepute in statement said the decision that will last 30 days follows a discussion with the central bank and other bank partners to encourage the use of mobile money as opposed to using the physical cash which can likely transmit coronavirus.

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Vanhellepute meanwhile says there will be no charge for the wallet to bank or bank to wallet transactions but quickly adds that this only depends on the partnership with commercial banks.
The telecom giant has also made all Momo transactions to customers and merchants free.
Meanwhile in Kenya, Kenyan banks will allow personal borrowers who get into difficulties due to the new coronavirus pandemic to extend their loans for up to a year, the central bank governor said on Wednesday.

Kenya has seven confirmed cases of the COVID-19 and the government has imposed measures aimed at reducing its spreads including banning public gatherings and closing schools indefinitely.
“We don’t want this health crisis to become a financial crisis,” Patrick Njoroge, the governor, told a televised news conference.

Small and medium enterprises who encounter difficulties will also be allowed to restructure their bank loans at no cost, he added.
In the US, The federal government is looking at quickly sending money directly to Americans to soften the economic blow from the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think we are going to do something that gets money as quickly as possible” to Americans, President Donald Trump told White House reporters on Tuesday.
“The president has instructed me we have to do this now,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said alongside Trump on the briefing room podium. “We’re looking at sending checks to Americans immediately. And I mean now, in the next two weeks.”

Trump’s administration is seeking to get Congress to approve an infusion of as much as $850 billion into the economy, including $250 billion for small business loans, and $50 billion to bail out the country’s airlines, as part of an emergency stimulus package.the VOA reported.
This would be in addition to another $100 billion-plus package passed by the House. That legislation provides paid sick leave, unemployment insurance and other benefits for workers affected by the national spread of COVID-19.

“We want to have a big infusion, as opposed to going through little meetings every couple of days,” Trump said about the request to Congress. “We’re going big, and that’s the way it’ll be.”

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