Kenya's mobile money interoperability gets go ahead from central bank

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has given a go ahead that mobile money interoperability can be fully implemented in the eastern Afrikan country. This follows a pilot that kicked off earlier in January 2018 to test mobile money interoperability between Airtel Money and Safaricom's M-PESA.

The CBK has said that the full implementation of mobile money interoperability can go ahead with immediate effect in Kenya.

Previously, the transfer across networks was complex, costly and inconvenient, This was due to the money being transferred not reflecting directly into the recipient’s wallet as a result of lack of connectivity between platforms,” said Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom Kenya in a joint statement.

The introduction of full mobile money interoperability will likely 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.

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.

Joe Mucheru, Kenya's Cabinet Secretary for Information and Communications Technology, 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.

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