What is the difference between Paybill and Till Number?

A guide to the correct Lipa na Mpesa product, Paybill or Buygoods (Till Number), to select for your business transactions.

The M-Pesa services have been in use for the longest time now, and with more users on the app, businesses have paved their way through the application easily. What benefit does it have for businesses? Let's discuss that in our article below and learn the difference between the Mpesa Paybill and Buygoods (M-PESA Business Till Number) products.

How does the M-Pesa Paybill or Till Number works?

A Paybill or Till number is a unique code attached to a business's phone number for account identification that allows customers to pay money into business accounts through M-Pesa. Customers' money paid in the Till or Paybill number is mainly for the services and goods from a business, and once the payment is made, they will each receive a notification. 

Customers can purchase through the M-Pesa Paybill or Till number, transfer funds to other businesses or individuals, and even make deposits.

How to get an M-Pesa Paybill number

How can you get an M-Pesa Paybill number? It's easy; all you need to do is register your business with Safaricom. This will make the whole process for you since you will be given a Paybill number that will allow you to receive payments from your customers.

How to create an M-Pesa business Paybill 

In order to create an M-Pesa Paybiill for your business account, there are several procedures that you have to go through. With us are some of the steps that need to be taken as follows;

  1. Visit the M-Pesa website and select Paybill. 
  2. Click the "apply now" button under the Paybill option and choose your business industry. 
  3. Enter your business details and the correct documents proving your business is legitimate for verification purposes, then click "apply."
  4. Enter your details, i.e., names, account names, etc., provided on the sheet for your Paybill services, and then click "apply."
  5. Fill in your details on the next page as required, then click the "apply" button.
  6. Read the terms and conditions given, and if it makes sense, click "agree to the terms and conditions."
  7. Once you are done with the registration and confirm you've completed it, you will be sent your M-Pesa Paybill number via email.

What is the difference between Paybill and Till Number?

The difference between Paybill and Till number is not so big, but with us are some of the reasons we believe they have a difference as follows;

The difference falls into these three categories:

  1. Charges
  2. Cost
  3. Account Number

To understand why two different products exist, we have to go back to the early days of Mpesa.

When Mpesa launched in 2007, sending money between individuals was the only option. However, due to the growing popularity, the businesses that got interested purchased a dedicated regular phone number to collect the payments. 

These are some of the challenges businesses that use regular phone numbers often face.

  1. Fraudulent reversals: You risk having customers fraudulently requesting a transaction reversal after you have rendered a service or released a product.
  2. Transaction Limit: You have a limit of only Ksh. 150,000 per transaction and a maximum of Ksh. 300,000 in your wallet.
  3. Incorrect phone number: Phone numbers are long, and your customers can easily mistype them, sending the money to the wrong phone number. 

To solve these problems, Safaricom, in partnership with Kopokopo, launched Buygoods and Paybill. 

While it's possible to use MPESA on your phone for personal purposes, it can be very complex and challenging in business. The video below shows how you can use Helloduty to automate it for you.

What is Buygoods (Till Number)?

A Buygoods number is a short 6-digit number that a business shares with its customers. Buygoods is best for small customer-facing businesses such as supermarkets, hardware, etc., where such interaction is short-lived.


  1. Cheaper than Paybill on small amounts. Transaction charges are 0.25% for amounts below 200 and 0.5% otherwise.
  2. Buygoods Transaction charges are a percentage of the transaction; it's, therefore, easy to predict. 
  3. Reduces the risk of fraudulent reversals, as Safaricom has to get authorization from the business before reversing the amount from the Till Number.
  4. Till numbers are more accessible to acquire than Paybill
  5. Free for the customer.


  1. Unlike Paybill, the Till Number product assumes that one account (based on the phone number) does not make the same payment frequently. 

What is Paybill?

A Paybill is a 7 - 9 digit number that represents an organization. The organization can then provision another number, the account number, per customer or invoice. This account number makes it super easy for the business to reconcile its books later.

A Paybill number is best for recurring transactions, e.g., Utility bills, invoice payments, gambling, or APIs.


  1. The account number makes it easy to reconcile the payment.
  2. Reduces the risk of a customer paying the wrong Paybill as the account number will not match.


  1. Most expensive Mpesa product. The transactions are charged in bands and, therefore, harder to predict. 
  2. Having an account number could be tiring for your consumers as they must memorize another number, the account number.

Mpesa Paybill tariff charges and bands.

‍The similarity between Paybill and Buygoods.

  1. They are better for collecting payments than a regular phone number, as highlighted in the pros and cons above.
  2. They are both available to integrate with the Mpesa API.
  3. They both require authorization before funds can be reversed.


The difference between Paybill and Buygoods is therefore summarized into the following:

  1. Charges: Buygoods is charged as a percentage of the transaction, while Paybill is charged in bands.
  2. Cost: The cost of using Buygoods is free for the customer, while on Paybill, the cost can either be entirely free for the customer, shared between the customer and the merchant, or wholly borne by the customer.
  3. Account Number: Paybill has an account number that makes it easier to reconcile the transaction, while Buygoods does not. 

What do we recommend?

If you want to integrate the M-Pesa API to reconcile your payments automatically, we recommend applying for a Paybill number. Why? Since July 2022, Safaricom has started masking our phone numbers in their API responses. With Paybill, you can ask your customers to input a unique Account Number that helps you reconcile the payment.

However, Buygoods will be the recommended option if you want to use the STK pop-up.

People also read; how to request for an Mpesa Paybill or Buygoods

Last updated
March 5, 2024
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