Mobile phone users will from Tuesday next week be able to transfer and receive money across Safaricom and Airtel networks following a successful pilot interoperability over a two-month period.
Telkom, which relaunched its cash transfer service under the T-Kash brand, will join Safaricom and Airtel at a later date.
Telkom invested Sh1 billion in its revamp. The system is, for instance, expected to allow an M-Pesa customer to send money, which will be reflected in real time in the recipient’s Airtel Money account.
This will be a change from the current situation where a text message alerts the recipient of such money to collect it from an agent registered with the sender’s network.
This system has been disadvantageous for those who receive cash from a network with fewer agents across the country, making it difficult and tedious to make withdrawals.
Telecom firms have been negotiating interoperability for almost a year, and it is expected to be part of the solution to concerns over Safaricom’s dominance.
Safaricom has been in the eye of the storm, including an attempt to designate the giant telco as a dominant operator, which would have seen its voice and mobile money units split into stand-alone businesses that would compete with its rivals.
The number of active mobile money transfer subscriptions and registered agents stood at 28.1 million and 184,537, respectively, according to Communication Authority sector statistics for the first quarter of 2107/2018.
M-Pesa services posted a market share of 80.8 per cent during the quarter under review.
Equitel Money boasted a market share of 6.8 per cent, while Mobikash stood at 6.3 per cent. Airtel Money and Mobile Pay Limited attained 5.8 and 0.3 per cent market shares, respectively during the period.
Safaricom also accounts for 67 per cent of all the mobile money agents and about 40,000 merchants who accept M-Pesa payments.
The cross-platform transfer will see an increase in the number of transactions on the networks with a smaller market share.
Currently, on average, a subscriber on the M-Pesa platform makes six transactions a month, whereas an Airtel Money subscriber does 0.6.