M-PESA is down in Kenya and users are airing their displeasure online. They’re now looking for an alternative that can rival Safaricom’s product.

PesaLink, a Kenyan platform that enables real-time fund transfers between bank accounts, is launching a merchant payments option. PesaLink made this announcement on X and follows an M-PESA service outage that has posed challenges for customers in making payments for goods and services through the paybill service.

“Most PesaLink Payments are business-related: bulk transactions, invoices, rent and more. Watch this space for merchant payments… some news coming soon!” PesaLink said on X, in response to customers who have been requesting for the feature for a long time.

One PesaLink customer said that they were calling for PesaLink to exist as a separate entity not associated with its current partners, Kenyan banks. “Pesalink needs to have an app and its own ecosystem that integrates with payment services and allow us to withdraw through local agents,” the customer, Kiruti Itimu said. Another fintech users, Saruni Maina, added, “Actually, PesaLink needs to have a merchant payment option to rival Lipa na M-PESA.”

Lipa na M-PESA, a cashless payment service that enables customers to make payments for goods and services, is supported by several products, with two being the most common. One of them is the M-PESA Till, which allows business owners to collect payments on the till and use the funds collected for other transactions directly from it. The other is the M-PESA paybill service, a cash collection service enabling businesses to regularly collect money from customers through M-PESA.

PesaLink, launched in 2017 by the Integrated Payment Service, a for-profit arm of the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA), has been successful due to its operational management by an independent agency (KBA). This approach has helped alleviate cases of conflict of interest amongst local banks. The platform facilitates affordable and faster real-time transactions, separating itself from alternatives like real-time gross settlement (RTGS) or cheques. Customers can also send up to KES 1 million ($6,135) to another bank account for KES 150 ($0.92), surpassing M-PESA’s current cap at KES 500,000 ($3,067).

Get the best African tech newsletters in your inbox