Pesalink by the Integrated Payment Systems Limited (IPSL) was launched with pomp and colour in 2017. Over the last few years, it was touted as the replacement and answer to the MPESA-chokehold on the Kenyan payment systems, and sure it was because of its cheap until a former banker came forward claiming that the idea was his and he wasn’t paid any royalties.
On December 5th 2019, a former Cooperative Bank staffer went to court seeking Ksh1 billion from the over 30 banks that use Pesalink for stealing his idea.
Stephen Muikia Njongoro said Pesalink bears similar salient features and components to his original idea, which had expressed to the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA), the entity which runs Pesalink, in early 2015.
He believes the association has been illegally using his idea for commercial benefit.
And as a result, he wants the court to stop the use of Pesalink, arguing KBA has infringed on his copyright and denied him royalties.
The second copyright problems that Pesalink run into was with a payments FinTech Kibo Capital Group Limited.
The founder and managing director of Kibo Capital Group Limited Jasper Ochieng speaking to the editor of a local business blog stated that his idea of digital receipt registered in January 2017 at the Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) has been stolen by Integrated Payment Service Limited (IPSL) which runs and manages the Pesalink platform.
Mr. Ochieng, shared the idea with IPSL Technology hoping that Pesalink will be using his e-Receipt idea but later found out that the company has taken up his idea and is using it without his consent.
‘I shared the proprietary software with IPSL (Pesalink) through CEO, Agnes Gathaiya, former Chief Information Officer Michael Mbuthia and the same was taken up by Technology Manager Judith Mwangoe after Mike exited the company sometimes into the project. This was done through a proof of concept that started in March through the year with presentations and demos done to large corporates’, said Mr. Ochieng
Cases of intellectual property thefts are rife in Kenya with corporates pegging the high legal costs as a way to ‘get-away-with-it’. They get away with it due to the prohibitive legal costs of suits.
Pesalink has over 3 million customers, used by over 30 banks. As of September 2019, about Sh220 billion has been moved through Pesalink payment systems.
As of today, the first case has not been mentioned on the media for quite long now and as Kibo Capital Group Limited prepares its legal challenge to the copyright infringement, it remains to be seen how the cases will go.
The verdict as one expert speaking to KenyanBulletin.com had said, will decide if the Kenyan government truly loves the innovative youths as there have been various accusations of corporates ‘stealing ideas from youths’, because they can’t get enough money to seek legal redress.