Kenya pilots mobile money interoperability


Safaricom’s MPesa and Airtel Money are undertaking a pilot of mobile money interoperability in Kenya ahead of a tentative launch of the cross-network service countrywide in March. The ICT Ministry says Telkom Kenya is expected to take part in the tests while they are already running as soon as it launches its mobile money services in the country.

Joe Mucheru, ICT Cabinet Secretary told a media ahead of the interoperability tests that making it easier to send money between different networks will drive down the costs for mobile money service users.

“We expect that as a result of the mobile money interoperability other than the access and efficiency there is actually then going to be more competition which should maybe lower the prices of the services and that will be better for everybody.”

Mucheru added that interoperability will see users send and receive money across networks in real time between rival networks and that the money sent and received will reflect in real time as cash available for use in the customer’s mobile wallet.

“Airtel and Safaricom will begin their pilot and their pilot is going to allow them to test with just a few people. Once they have started the pilot, telkom Kenya will join by mid-February. This is part of the roadmap that we have that will ensure that we see growth in our sector, that we are going to see more competition and that we see more innovation.”concluded Mucheru.

The ICT Ministry has also indicated that the Central Bank of Kenya and the Communications Authority of Kenya will have to give approval of the system after the pilot is completed and before it goes to the market.

Airtel Africa revealed in November last year that Airtel Money transaction values have grown over 30% year on year in the sixteen African countries where the service is available. The telco added that its commitment to Kenya will see it investing heavily in all technologies (2G, 3G and 4G) and putting up over 300 sites in the new year in order to improve coverage even further.

Safaricom for its part has emphasized the positive impact on society derived from its mobile money service which it first launched more in Kenya than ten years ago.

“The social value of M-PESA remains a significant creator of value for Kenyan society, increasing by 12% in the last financial year. The major driver for this growth has been the increase in customer, agent and merchant numbers.” said then CEO Bob Collymore in the mobile operators Sustainability report released in October last year.

Collymore is currently on medical leave.