Zambia looks to link up mobile money operators

Zambia looks to link up mobile money operators

Service providers will begin testing the system in April, according to the Bank of Zambia.

The Bank of Zambia has confirmed it is working on a project to link up all mobile money service providers in the country.

The project is being undertaken in collaboration with the Zambia Electronic Clearing House Limited (ZECHL) and implemented under the National Financial Switch (NFS), an electronic platform (system) which will link all mobile money operators in a bid to increase financial inclusion among the over 60% unbanked Zambians.

The NFS is being established under the National Payment System with the aim of linking with other payment systems (individual operators' payment systems) without undue restrictions.

According to the Bank of Zambia, providers of payment system services will set pricing structures (under Bank of Zambia and ZICTA supervision) that "are cost reflective, affordable and do not prohibit the consumers from accessing payment systems."

Lazarus Kamanga, Bank of Zambia director of banking, currency and payments systems,said currently there is no way for mobile money clients of Airtel Zambia, MTN Zambia and Zamtel to send money to competitor operator networks.

Kamanga said the NFS (the electronic platform) is expected to go live by June this year under the second phase of the project.

He added that service providers will begin testing the system in April, once it has been fully configured.

The first phase of the system involved the linking of the country's banks to electronic payment system including Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and Point of Sale (PoP) machines.

Mobile money operators did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publishing.

Statistics from the Bank of Zambia shows that the number of mobile money accounts in the country now stands at over 4 million.