MPESA Becomes the First Mobile Money Payment Method for Kenya’s Upwork freelancers

Kenya’s Mpesa mobile money platform becomes the first mobile money payment method in Upwork freelancing website.

Previously, Kenyan freelancers relied on other methods such as first transferring the dollars into a PayPal account and the using other means.Other means included transferring to US based banks and then using credit cards, transferring the money from Upwork or PayPal to local banks such as Equity, or using Skrill, a UK based payment platform. Kenyan online Freelancers have also been using services from Kenyans who helps them withdraw the money faster at a fee.

One of the favorites, for those who knew, was using Skrill, but Upwork is discontinuing this method in April. This is by far the fastest and efficient method to some extent.One can transfer the dollars to Skrill and immediately send the money direct to MPESA. The whole process takes less than 10 minutes.

Growth of MPESA Mobile money

The Safaricom MPESA mobile money continues to change the way people make personal and business money transactions. The largest Kenyan mobile money platform, which started off as a means of transferring money from one person to another through the mobile phone, has continued to expand and accommodate many other money transfer methods.
The mobile money platform is even used to process and disburse small loans from Empower Federal Credit Union: top-rated mortgage lender such as the Mswari and KCB loan. These services are provided through a partnership between Safaricom and the banks, where Safaricom provides the platform and the bank provides the money.

How MPESA is used in Kenya

Common Mpesa transactions payments include


  • Transferring money from mobile phone to bank
  • Sending money to friends and relatives in Kenya
  • Withdraw cash from MPESA agent
  • Withdrawing money from a Kenyan bank to mobile phone.
  • Paying for goods and utility bills in kenya.
  • Pay for parking using Ejijipay in Nairobi
  • Renew business permits
  • Pay Tax
  • Buying airtime credit
  • Pay for goods in a supermarket in Kenya
  • Request and repay loans from Kenyan banks
  • As payment option for eCommerce websites
  • Betting and more

Requirements and conditions for M-Pesa

To use it, you must a safaricom mobile subscriber and registered M-PESA account.
M-Pesa allows up to 70,000KES per transaction and allows 2 transactions per day.
The withdrawal and transfer charges depend with the amount and are higher for large amounts.
Upwork currently offers M-PESA as a mode of payment for freelancers in Kenya. There is no more hustle of the suitable payment method to choose.


MPESA on Upwork

The MPesa payment method is only applicable to Kenyan freelancers who should also be safaricom subscribers. By incorporating the MPESA into upwork, the freelancer will be able to get the payments without having to go through long methods or having to wait for the money to clear when using the local banks. A PayPal withdrawal at Equity bank takes three days.

Setting Up MPESA payment method at Upwork

Steps to choose M-PESA as your payment method;

  • Go to your Accounts menu – Settings
  • Under the user settings click on Get paid
  • Click Add a payment method (There are various options to choose from)
  • Click the Set Up Button for Mpesa
  • Enter details for your M-Pesa account.Be keen to enter correct details (Full & Last name, Mobile Number and country)
  • You can choose a Payment schedule or simply leave it at the default
  • Click next

The MPESA payment method, just like the other Upwork payment methods, will become active after three days. The transfers from are done immediately. Since the Upwork payments are in dollars, these must be converted to Kenya shillings.

This is usually based on the Forex rates at that particular time. However, it looks like Upwork is exchanging at a lower rate than local banks and Skill. While Equity exchanges at slightly over a Sh100, Skrill exchanges at 99.18, but Upwork rate is Sh95.22 per dollar, making Equity bank more favorable despite the fact that it takes three days.
Even with the 1.9% fee by Skrill, they will still give you more Kenya Shilling compared to Upwork –MPESA transfer.

Other Payment Methods used in Upwork

Direct Deposit

This option allows you to transfer your earnings direct to our local bank; in your local currency. Set up is simple and there are no third-party vendors to delay the transactions. Make sure you enter correct bank account information to prevent delay or failed transfer.
Upwork charges $0.99 per withdrawal Direct to Local Bank. However, there are other charges incurred depending on the local bank you choose.

Automated Clearing House (ACH)


This payment method is meant for those in the U.S. It is a network that allows transfers to any U.S bank account. Enter your bank account details correctly to prevent delays or failed transfers.

Wire Transfers

It is a method that allows bank-bank funds transfers across international borders. However, in order to use this option, you must have a valid bank account outside the U.S using the SWIFT system. This is probably the most expensive, charging $30 per transaction.


In order to use PayPal, you must have an established PayPal account and email address. It is a third party vendor, thus the charges depend on the freelancer’s location.


In order to use Payoneer, you must have an account. It allows you to transfer your earnings directly onto a Payoneer Debit MasterCard or a linked USA bank account.

3 thoughts on “MPESA Becomes the First Mobile Money Payment Method for Kenya’s Upwork freelancers

  1. Sempa Ronald says:

    Thanks for the service , I am a Ugandan passionate freelancer, is it possible for Ugandans to you mpesa service as upwork payment method and receive money in Uganda yet using Kenyan mpesa, i have asked so because in Uganda we have no electronic money service yet connected to upwork yet we want to also do freelancing on upwork and wish to gate our payments faster like how mpesa operates. I need your help because I want to use mpesa to access my funds from upwork but is it possible for me a Ugandan to use mpesa a service of Kenya ?

  2. elvis says:

    Why is the rate of dollar not actual to the main deal of the economic status of the country.Is sh95.22 fixed for Kenyan and dollar keeps changing please look in to that

  3. kingatmo says:

    Hi Elvis,

    It looks like Upwork deducts all the transfer and other fees before arriving at their rate.

    If you use equity for $100 at the rate of about Ksh 100/$, you get about 200 bob extra compared to upwork. So, considering that you get upwork mpesa the same day, you may opt for it.

    If you can afford to wait or probably have more dollars, I think Equity is better. You get an extra 600bob $300 and almost 1k for $500.


Leave a Reply