Airtel Kenya, Safaricom to offer cross network money transfers from April 10   

Airtel Kenya and Safaricom’s mobile money transfer subscribers will from next – April 10, 2018 – be able to transfer cash to each other seamlessly as the country’s telcos implement interoperability of their platforms.

According to a joint statement issued by Airtel Kenya, Telkom Kenya and Safaricom on April 6, the three telcos have “come together to offer mobile money interoperability”, a development that will allow for the seamless transfer of funds from one platform – either Airtel Money, Telkom Kenya’s TKash or Safaricom’s MPESA – across networks.

“This means that funds will move directly from the sender’s wallet to the recipient’s wallet. Kenya now joins 15 other countries across the world that have successfully implemented wallet-to-wallet interoperability. This is a significant step for the mobile money operators in Kenya” states the statement.

“Previously, the transfer of funds across networks was not a seamless process; it was complex, costly and inconvenient. This was due to the money being transferred not reflecting directly into the recipient’s wallets, as a result of lack of connectivity between mobile money platforms”.

Basically, a customer would receive an SMS from another network notifying them of cahs that had been sent. Afterwards, the recipient would have to withdraw the amount from the network’s agent – whether Airtel Kenya, Safaricom or Telkom Kenya – before they can deposit the same into their own wallet. And in cases where the funds were not withdrawn within 7 days, they were sent back to the sender.

With interoperability however, customers will be able to send and receive money directly to and from each other, irrespective of the network they are on, according them more flexibility and convenience when making mobile money transactions.

“Implementation of interoperability, therefore, will further drive the financial inclusion agenda in Kenya and more importantly, empower the customer through a more integrated mobile money ecosystem… Mobile money interoperability is set to launch between Safaricom and Airtel on March 10, 2018. Telkom will launch soon after with these two operators,” added the statement.

The process to introduce mobile money interoperability in the country started in early this year through a pilot that involved Safaricom and Airtel Kenya.

The pilot followed the release of the results of the competition study commissioned by CA which proposed that Safaricom, considered the market leader in Kenya’s telcoms industry, should not be charging its subscribers to make mobile money transactions to non-MPESA users as well as its own subscribers not registered on the MPESA platform. The study, conducted by Analysys Mason, also recommended that Safaricom be prohibited from levying surcharges for transfers to unregistered users as well as cross-platform transfers.

CA industry stats from July to September indicate that the number of active mobile money transfer subscriptions and agents stood at 28.1 million and 184,537 respectively during this period while a total of 537.2 million transactions (sending and withdrawals) were made, all valued at Kshs 1.65 trillion. Person-to-person transfers totaled Kshs 544.1 billion.

In terms of platforms and operators, Safaricom – through MPESA – controls 80.8% of mobile money subscribers while Equitel has 6.8% with Mobikash coming in third with 6.3% of the overall market share. Airtel Kenya is in fourth place with 5.8% followed by Mobile Pay with 0.3%.

Telkom Kenya didn’t return any figures as it had discontinued its previous service – Orange Money – following the rebranding while its new platform – TKash – was not yet active when the report was being compiled.


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