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Kenya Bans Credit Card Betting But Allows Mobile Transactions

Kenya elections aljazeera 2
Kenya elections aljazeera 2

With the rise of new technologies and the prolonged stability in the region, Kenya is experiencing a quiet economic and demographic boom. And the fact that now Kenya bans credit card betting but allows mobile transactions, the opposite of the law so far is just one in a row of problems.

Similar to his father, the current outgoing president Uhuru Kenyatta is focused on conservative social policies and very liberal and forward-thinking economic policy, which resonates with the country’s youthful population.

The results are overall beneficial for both the population and the investors. There is a lot of opportunity in the country, and the number of those is going to rise as more people enter the labor market. Regretfully, frequent mistakes induce fear from investors.

On this last law, the legislature will overturn the current betting law where only credit and debit cards were allowed for gambling. Now, only mobile transactions will be permitted, with the cards being completely banned.

Flip-Flop on a Major Law

While some major operators like Betsafe in Kenya remained in the country with the belief that everything will improve, other stakeholders like Sportpesa and BCLB have withdrawn.

The biggest reason for this was the proposed and accepted tax hike on stakes themselves, pushing from 10% to 20% at the end of 2019. This law was scrubbed by the constitutional courts and there is currently no tax, but it is unknown how long will this stand.

Additional uncertainty in a highly competitive market is not welcome and most investors have started withdrawing.

A switch from cards to mobile here is less important than the flip-flop on laws. Most customers in Kenya prefer mobile payments so this shouldn’t be an issue. But who knows if the Jubilee party will have something else planned as a surprise.

Young Market and Young Customers

By all accounts, the current Kenyan market as a whole is bound to double by 2025, as currently more than half of the population is below the age of 18. This opens a whole spectrum of opportunities and chances but has challenges as well.

In particular, this has to do with the online existence of the citizens of the country. Familiarity with new technologies is commonplace and most upcoming customers prefer using smartphones and mobile devices for both business and communication.

Young customers are better informed, more agile, and more demanding of the services. And while the willingness to spend some money on sports betting is ingrained in the culture, competition between operators is tough.

With the added issue of frequent government involvement, it is hard to stay relevant. Just one bad season can remove a company from the public eye completely.

Better Times are Ahead

There is no way that the current trend will end up badly for either Kenyans or the betting operators in the country. More customers mean more business and larger profits. The only question is who will come out on top.

As even some providers that were founded in the country have abandoned the license, there is a bit of a vacuum. If the current law stays the same, such a hole will be filled by others quickly, but if local authorities remain inconsistent they might damage the growth of the industry.

Still, even if solutions come slower than investors and gamblers would like, they will come eventually.


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