Safaricom and Airtel will on Monday 22nd January pilot mobile money interoperability across their networks awaiting the full roll-out in March. This announcement was made today by ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru, during a stakeholders meeting on mobile financial services interoperability held at Ministry of Information Communications and Technology (MOICT) Headquarters at Teleposta House.
The mobile money interoperability will allow users to transfer money across networks. What this means is that, a customer with an account with one service provider can send or receive money to or from the account of a customer with a different service provider.
Today, no market has interconnected mobile money platforms and the long-term objective according to the Cabinet Secretary is to ensure enhanced service provision for this platform-mediated network business.
“This is part of the sector competition growth. We are considering ways that will ensure citizens get the best services. Mobile Money interoperability was one of the key areas we were looking at. We now have conversations going on in areas of national roaming, tower sharing and pricing of services and accounting methodologies that go towards facilitating service affordability,” said CS Mucheru.
Mucheru also called upon the mobile network operators to popularize interoperability and also ensure that services for Kenyans remain accessible and affordable. He went further to encourage all service providers to consider linking up their mobile services platforms in order to deepen financial inclusion without compromising convenience to consumers.
Mucheru says the conversations around mobile money interoperability will continue across the region. ‘’Our heads of states have requested that they see mobile money interoperability also happen across the East African region. Kenya decided to do this first and this will be a stepping stone for mobile money interoperability across the region.”
The piloting comes weeks before Telkom Kenya’s mobile money system comes on board in mid-February.
Kenya has been a leader in Mobile money service since the launch of Mpesa back in 2007. The Communications Authority of Kenya, latest statistics puts the the number of mobile money subscribers in the country at 28.2 million. Safaricom’s M-Pesa platform has the largest share, with 22.8 million subscribers, which is 80 percent market share. Equity Bank’s Equitel is a distant second with 6.8 per cent share (1.9 million), while Mobikash has a 6.3 per cent share (1.77 million).
Airtel through their Airtel Money platform holds a 5.8 per cent market share with 1.6 million customers. The latest data by CA also shows Kenyans transacted Sh1.65 trillion during the three months to September 2017, compared to Sh1.08 trillion transacted over a similar period in 2016.
Telkom Kenya, on the other hand is yet to establish its own mobile money service after shutting down Orange Money, although the company says plans are underway to revamp the service.