Kenya directs all banks to stop dealing with Chipper Cash, Flutterwave, saying they are unlicensed

A day after Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), Kenya’s monetary authority, said that Chipper Cash and Flutterwave were not licensed to operate in the East African country, the regulator has directed all financial institutions to cease doing business with the two fintechs.

The CBK’s bank supervision deputy director, Matu Mugo, directed all regulated banks, microfinance and mortgage finance institutions to stop their partnerships with the two startups with immediate effect — dealing a blow to Flutterwave and Chipper Cash, some of Africa’s highest valued startups.

The letter to the CEOs followed remarks by CBK’s governor, Patrick Njoroge, that the two startups are not licensed remittance or payment service providers in Kenya — one of the biggest fintech hubs in Africa.

“It has come to the attention of the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) that Flutterwave Payments Technology Limited and Chipper Technologies Kenya (Chipper) have been engaging in money remittance and payments services without licensing and authorization by CBK…You are therefore directed to immediately cease and desist from dealing with Flutterwave and Chipper,” said Mugo in the letter.

Flutterwave, which is also facing money laundering allegations in Kenya, in a statement said it has been operating in the country through partnerships with regulated banks and telecoms, as it waits for a payments service provider license it applied for in 2019.

Flutterwave, which recently raised $250 million at a $3 billion valuation, facilitates cross-border payments transactions of small to large businesses in Africa via one API. Some of its international clients include Booking.com, Flywire and Uber. In a February interview with TechCrunch, the African payments giant, with an infrastructure reach across 34 countries on the continent, said it was processing 200 million transactions worth more than $16 billion.

Chipper Cash is also a cross-border payments company with operations in Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, Rwanda and South Africa.