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Safaricom PLC, Airtel Networks Kenya and, Telkom Kenya (formerly Orange Kenya) are the major telco companies in Kenya. Safaricom happens to dominate this industry with over 20 million customers because of its excellent and vast network coverage but the main reason of its dominance is because of its mobile money transfer platform, M-Pesa.

Well, as from Tuesday, April 10, 2018 M-Pesa and Airtel customers will be able to send money across the two networks hassle free and without any additional charges. At the moment, when an Airtel customer transfers cash to an M-Pesa user, the M-Pesa customer will receive a transaction message but the funds received will not have reflected in their M-Pesa wallet. They are required to head to an Airtel Money agent to withdraw the funds. If the receiver does not withdraw this money within one week, it is reverted to the sender. Mobile money inter-operability ought to have been made available to the consumers by end of last year. In a joint statement the three mobile network providers said that this will be possible starting on Tuesday. Although this will not be possible for recently launched Telkom’s T-Kash yet, Telkom said it will join the operation later in the year. Safaricom and Airtel took part in a pilot project as from January this year to determine its efficiency. It will now mean that the customers will be able to send and receive money from users of different mobile networks seamlessly and they can withdraw the funds from the network’s agent where the money was sent to.

ICT Cabinet Secretary, Joe Mucheru, announced that the program will finally be going live with the pilot project taking place from January 22, 2018. Safaricom and Airtel got to provide 100 employees each to assist in the pilot tests. The pilot program ran for two months and received approval from Communications Authority of Kenya and The Central Bank of Kenya before being released to the consumers. CS Mucheru said, “One of the reasons we need inter-operability is to make sure that people are not limited by a closed network, you send money to anyone on any network and receive from anyone.” Safaricom agreed to the idea after denying to detach M-Pesa, a recommendation Analysis Mason- an independent international consultant gave if Safaricom’s dominance was to be tamed.

It has not yet been clear if they transfer rates will be changed or will remain unchanged for both the mobile networks for the mobile money inter-operability program but the two telco companies have agreed not to charge each other inter-network fees meaning this will be reflected to the final transaction charges and it will be cheaper to transfer money across networks than before.

Tanzania and Rwanda have had mobile inter-operability for quite some time now and so far, there has been no problems for them. Kenya will also be joining the lot and we all hope everything will work out perfectly.

What impact do you think this will have? Leave a comment with your opinion.

 Regards Brian James.

 

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