Safaricom, Airtel cross-network money transfer to start on Tuesday


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In Summary

  • The service will initially be open to Safaricom and Airtel, which have conducted close to three months testing of the system.
  • Telkom is to join later after relaunching its mobile money service.
  • The move is set to lower the cost of transactions for users while opening up the mobile money space for competition.

Mobile money users will be able to send, receive and withdraw money from any network as telecom operators roll out mobile money interoperability.

The service is scheduled to start on Tuesday April 10 is part of government efforts to deepen financial inclusion and level the playing field for mobile operators.

The service will initially be open to Safaricom and Airtel, which have conducted close to three months testing of the system, with Telkom set to join later after re launching its mobile money service.

The move is set to lower the cost of transactions for users while opening up the mobile money space for competition.

Safaricom with its M-Pesa service launched in 2007 enjoys the largest market share and accounts for 80 percent market share.

“They (customers) will be able to send and receive money directly to and from each other, irrespective of the network they are on, allowing them more flexibility and convenience when carrying out their transactions,” Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom said in a joint statement.

The move to share the mobile money platform is seen as a means to boost competition at a time Safaricom has been under pressure over its market dominance.

A preliminary Communications Authority (CA) report on competition had mooted the splitting of Safaricom into two to level the playing field, but has since been abandoned.

With the cross network mobile money platform, an Airtel Money user will be able to send money, which will be reflected in real time in the recipient’s M-Pesa or T-Kash account.

This will be a change from the current situation where a text message alerts the recipient of the money to collect cash from an agent registered with the sender’s network.

Safaricom currently has the largest mobile money agent and merchant network which it will now share with Telkom and Airtel.

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) backed the mobile money interoperability system in its quest to boost financial inclusion.

“At the end of the day the objective is to make sure that the customer gets the most benefit,” CBK governor Patrick Njoroge said in January.

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