Kenya has kicked off the mobile money interoperability pilot between Safaricom's M-PESA and Airtel Money. The pilot kicked off on 22 January 2018 and will involve Safaricom's M-PESA and Airtel Money.
Present at the pilot's launch was Kenya's ICT Cabinet Secretary (CS), Joe Mucheru, said that it is hoped that ultimately mobile money interoperability, once fully functional, will bring down the cost of mobile money transactions. improve efficiency, and likely increase competition.
"Mobile money users will be able to send and receive money across networks once the pilot window is over. The first phase of the pilot between Airtel Money and Safaricom's Mpesa will start on Monday next week before Telkom Kenya’s mobile money system comes on board mid-February," said Mucheru.
In attendance alongside Mucheru was also Henry Rotich, Kenya's Treasury Cabinet Secretary.
Safaricom's M-PESA is undoubtedly the dominat service in Kenya's mobile money ecosystem as it holds over 70% market share as per the latest report by the Communications Authority of Kenya. With Equitel's offering hovering around a fifth of the mobile money market share in Kenya.
Mucheru had initially hinted at the coming possibility of mobile money interoperability in May 2017 during the East Africa Cyber Security Forum. At the time, Mucheru also stated that it was agreed among all of Kenya's mobile money operators present at the time that there would be no termination fees for a trial period of six months for mobile money transfers.
The move will definitely be welcome by consumers in Kenya who have to take about four steps to withdraw money transferred from M-Pesa to Airtel Money. Not only has it been a tedious process but it has also been quite costly for mobile money users. Interoperability also presents consumers with choices of services and not being locked into one service or mobile network, given how costly it has been to transfer money between mobile money services.