How to: link your PayPal account with M-Pesa, withdraw money from PayPal to M-Pesa and top up your PayPal through M-Pesa

By now you must have heard that it is finally possible to officially transfer funds to and from PayPal using Safaricom’s popular mobile money transfer service M-Pesa. Read the official announcement here.

The development, after years of many in Kenya’s burgeoning freelancing space being held captive by the exorbitant rates charged by third parties and the lengthy 3-day period it takes established players like Equity Bank to process transactions, should come as a relief to many.

Personally, I am beholden to PayPal for two reasons: I am an avid gamer and since Kenya is not one of the few countries that are classed as PlayStation Network (PSN) regions, I usually have to top up my PSN wallet using vouchers for the respective countries I have chosen to associate my account with and, most of the time, the only place to find good PSN voucher deals is online. On places like G2A. Over there, I use my PayPal to make those purchases. Since I run this blog as well, I use PayPal to pay costs related to operating it, like domain fees and whatnot. It’s convenient. Most important of all, I use PayPal to receive payments for a lot of the work I do online. As such, PayPal is directly responsible for my levels of happiness on any given day since because of it, I am able to have some recreation (gaming and taking people out 🙂 ) as well as make money, which I need if I am to be alive to write the next article.

Just like it did for the ability to buy apps on the Google Play Store using M-Pesa, Safaricom has partnered with a third-party, TransferTo, to make the PayPal linkage possible. According to the FAQ page on PayPal’s mobile money website, TransferTo “is a B2B (business-to-business) mobile payment network connecting financial institutions and mobile operators globally”.

READ:  Android users in Kenya can now pay for apps and subscriptions on the Play Store using M-Pesa

How to link your PayPal account to M-Pesa

First things first:

  • You need to have a PayPal account. If you don’t have one, sign up for one (link) then come back once done.
  • The PayPal account must be Kenyan. I have friends who registered their PayPal accounts while studying in the United States and were up in arms asking why their M-Pesa account wasn’t going through. Have that in mind when initiating the process.
  • Make sure that the name you used to register for your PayPal account is also the same one you used to register for M-Pesa. Failure to have the names matching will result in the process to sync the two accounts (PayPal and M-Pesa) failing. As of this moment, I don’t know what needs to be done in light of that happening.


  • Click this link.
  • You will be prompted to log in to your PayPal account. Do it.
  • Agree to the terms (make sure you read them since these are about how your data is shared).
  • Enter the phone number linked to your M-Pesa account. This is a no-brainer for those of us with just one Safaricom SIM but for those with multiple, please remember to enter the one that you wish to link with PayPal or the one that is registered for M-Pesa. Click “Link your accounts” once done.
  • Enter the one-time verification code that has been sent to your phone.

That’s it! You’re done. A whole world of opportunities now awaits you. You are now ready to start sending money to your PayPal account for top up from M-Pesa and transferring money from your PayPal account to your M-Pesa for your own needs.

Just bookmark this link for the next time you need to use the service i.e. to top up or to withdraw.

Talking about withdrawals and topping up…

How to withdraw money from PayPal to M-Pesa

  • Go to this link and click on the Withdraw from PayPal button
  • The available PayPal balance will be displayed. (Note from the PayPal-M-Pesa FAQ page: You will only be able to withdraw money up to the available US dollar balance shown in your PayPal account. If you hold a balance in your PayPal account in a different currency, please log in to your PayPal account at and convert the money into USD).
  • Enter the amount you would like to withdraw from your PayPal account in USD.
  • You will be redirected to a page showing the amount to be received in KES, the exchange rate used for the currency conversion, and the estimated transaction processing time.
  • Confirm and complete the withdrawal of funds.

Those who use the PayPal-Equity service, this is eerily familiar and shouldn’t be a problem.

How to top up PayPal using M-Pesa

  • Go to this link and click on the Top Up to PayPal button
  • Enter the amount you would like to top up in USD and click “Calculate” to get the equivalent amount converted in KES. This is the KES amount you need to transfer from your M-PESA account. The exchange rate used will be displayed on the same page.
  • Go to your M-PESA menu and select “Lipa na M-PESA” then the “Pay Bill” option.
  • Enter Business Number 800088.
  • Enter your phone number as the Account Number.
  • Enter your M-PESA PIN and click “Send”.

Quick notes

When it comes to PayPal transactions, other than just the joy of being able to withdraw and top-up from wherever we can access the internet and the Safaricom network, a couple of other things matter: the transaction costs and the amount of time taken to complete the transactions.

I was pleased when Equity recently revised their PayPal withdrawal rates to as little as just 1.5% of the withdrawal transaction for transactions below $500 so what’s Safaricom’s rate?

According to the FAQ page, users will be charged “3% conversion fee of the amount withdrawn”. For top ups, the rate rises to 4%. Since top ups require the use of an M-Pesa Pay Bill number, that means that there will be charges as well.

That money math doesn’t sound as exiting but guess what does? The amount of time that it will take to complete transactions.

Top ups to PayPal from M-Pesa will take at most just 4 hours to complete even though they will “generally be processed in real time”. Now, 4 hours is like forever if you want to use the money as soon as possible but this is one of those “patience is key” moments (also, one of those rare times when the phrase is not being directed at dejected and “entitled” 20-year-olds by condescending and exploitative 30 and 40-year-olds). For withdrawals, the wait times for the completion of a transaction will vary from as little as 2 hours to as long as 3 calendar days. The word “calendar” is important because I am sick and tired of Equity Bank’s “3 business days” promise that they often fail to keep. 3 calendar days means I no longer have to make sure I’ve withdrawn my money by Wednesday evening.

Since Safaricom caps M-Pesa transaction limits at Kshs 70,000 per transaction and Kshs 140,000 per user per day, that is likely to be this service’s main undoing for high-volume users. For the rest of us miserly types, we are sorted until someone else disrupts this space.

Have something that you believe I need to have a look at? Hit me up: echenze [at]