PayPal to MPesa: Link Accounts, Withdraw, Deposit and Costs

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Written By El Gwaro

PayPal is one of the largest payment gateways in the world. MPesa is by far the leading financial transaction system in Kenya.

So, would it be a coincidence that there exists a PayPal MPesa direct channel?

Definitely no!

With Kenya ranking as the highest internet penetration economy in Africa, online transactions are bound to increase by the day.

Also, while some Kenyans migrate to first world countries get a better life, the obligation to send something back home follows them like a shadow.

Yet nothing sucks as much as the long time it takes and high transaction fees subjected to these remittances. That’s why Safaricom partnered with PayPal to bring a direct PayPal MPesa service that reduces the time and cost of sending money across borders.

This service offered a great alternative to the PayPal Equity service which normally takes days for transactions to be successful. Although cheaper, most Kenyans are not patient enough.

We are gonna find out everything possible about this service; how it works, how to join, what are the costs, how about the limitations? Let’s dive in.

How does PayPal MPesa work

This service works courtesy of a B2B money transfer network which is provided by Thunes (Formally known as TranferTo). Thunes is a cross-border payment network that connects businesses to facilitate, real-time international mobile top-ups and mobile transfers.

When you make a transaction from a PayPal account to MPesa, your money moves through Thunes network before it reflects in your MPesa account.

This explains why the transaction doesn’t happen instantaneously like when withdrawing money from Equity to MPesa. In this case, where both entities are local companies, transactions are made through direct withdrawal and deposit systems.

Now that we have an idea of how it works, would you like to join?

There are two conditions you need to fulfill to enjoy this service.

  • Be an MPesa Customer
  • Have a Kenyan PayPal Account (use the link below to create a Kenyan PayPal account)

Create an account with PayPal

  1. Head over to PayPal Kenya Sign up Page
  2. Select Personal Account and Click Continue
  3. Input your Personal Details and Password. Ensure the names you use to register your account matches your MPesa names. If they don’t, you cannot link the two.
  4. Click Next
  5. Follow all instructions required to create and verify your account.

Once you have the account ready, link it to your MPesa number

How to link PayPal to MPesa

  1. Access PayPal MPesa Page
  2. Click on Get Started
  3. You’ll be prompted to Log in
  4. Enter the phone number you’d like to link with your PayPal Account
  5. Click on Link your Accounts
  6. A one-time verification code will be sent to your phone number. Input it and click confirm.

Your MPesa and PayPal accounts should be connected at this point unless you didn’t meet any of the requirements above especially the names which must match.

Link Paypal to Mpesa
Link Paypal to Mpesa

If your accounts fail to link, then you either have to create a new account with a different email and ensure your PayPal names match with your MPesa names.

Having linked the accounts, the only logical next step is to either withdraw money from PayPal to MPesa or deposit money on your PayPal account from MPesa.

First, let’s find out;

How to withdraw money from PayPal to MPesa

  1. Log onto your PayPal MPesa Account
  2. Click on Withdraw at the top Menu
  3. Enter the amount you wish to withdraw.
  4. Click on Continue to Withdraw.
  5. The amount to be received in Ksh, the exchange rate, and the estimated transaction processing time will be displayed.
  6. Confirm to initiate the transaction.

It usually takes about 1-3 hours for the money to be credited in your MPesa account so be patient.

The minimum amount of money you can withdraw from PayPal is 1 USD while the maximum is Ksh 150,000.

Always ensure before withdrawing, that the balance in you MPesa plus the amount you want to withdraw ill not exceed Ksh 300,000 which is the maximum amount of money and MPesa account can hold.

What if you want to load a PayPal account from MPesa?

How to deposit into PayPal from MPesa

  1. Log onto your PayPal MPesa Account
  2. Click on Top Up
  3. Enter the amount you would like to be deposited on the PayPal account, to see how much you need to send in Ksh and click Calculate
  4. The amount to be sent will be displayed.
  5. Access your MPesa Menu
  6. Select Lipa Na MPesa
  7. Choose Pay Bill
  8. Enter PayPal MPesa Pay bill number 800088.
  9. Enter your phone number as the Account Number
  10. Input PIN and Click Send

Your PayPal account should be credited within the next 4 hours. Unfortunately, there is no way you can send to any PayPal account from your MPesa apart from the linked account. This a major upset to people who’d love to pay for services online directly from MPesa to PayPal accounts.

It costs 3% to withdraw from PayPal and 4% to top up Paypal from MPesa of total transaction amounts. This is double the charge for PayPal Equity withdrawals which cost only 1.5%. For people who don’t need the money urgently, or wouldn’t mind waiting for a little more, Equity PayPal gateway is advantageous.

If you want to unlink your PayPal account from your MPesa account, contact the Tunes Customer care. Send them a message on the contact page indicating that you want the accounts unlinked. Use this form also when transactions fail to reflect within a day of initiation.

A good alternative to PayPal is Skrill which also has direct Skrill to Mpesa system.

Lastly, the PayPal Card

PayPal introduced the PayPal debit MasterCard to enable more access to funds by PayPal customers. You can withdraw money from your PayPal account instantly from an ATM just like any other bank debit cards.

Unfortunately, the PayPal Card is not available in Kenya yet. Attempting to apply for one from PayPal Debit Card Page will redirect you to logging into your account which is likely to be a Kenyan account due to the registration process used and thus you will be informed of the unavailability of the service in your country.


  1. Hello, thank you for your very informative article! Can I create a PayPal account without linking a bank account, just my m-pesa account?

  2. Hey, my PayPal account was permanently limited and I want to unlink my Mpesa number from it so I can link it to a new paypal account. How do I go about it?

  3. Hello, i have tried to link my mpesa account but m told that my number is already registered to the services. The thing is, i can’t access the services of withdrawing. How can i navigate through?

    • You can disconnect the number with the account it is connected with or get a new number and register with your new paypal account

  4. Hi, I have been using the paypal to mpesa withdraw function just fine. A couple of days ago it just started failing. I reached out to Thunes (third party app that makes it possible to withdraw) and they say it’s a Paypal issue. I just want to try and unlink my number now so I can try and set it up again. My KCB card which is a debit VISA card does not show up in the transfer to withdraw option either (I already linked and verified it). I’m truly frustrated and at my wits end. Anyone who can help out with this?

    • Hello Shie, I did a little research and found out that you can only withdraw from a limited PayPal account using a US-based bank account. So I think the best method is to look for a friend located in the USA who can withdraw the money and sent it to you through SKrill or WAVE. There are several websites online claiming they can do this for you at very exorbitant fees. Going this route is expensive and might even cost you all the money since you can’t trust these websites. So just talk to friends who have trustworthy friends in the USA to help you out.


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