M-pesa bank transactional

Safaricom, Airtel, and Telkom are looking to share mobile money agents and merchants in the next phase of mobile interoperability.

Agent interoperability will allow agents to maintain a single float when serving customers of different networks.

The sharing of agents or merchants will be a boon for Airtel and Telkom who trail Safaricom’s mobile-money service M-Pesa as it will open up access to Mpesa’s over 400,000 agents and merchants countrywide.

On Friday, Airtel and Telkom got a nod allowing their mobile-money customers to make payments to M-Pesa Paybill numbers.

“With the opening of till and paybill access I understand there will be customers walking to any mobile money agent trying to deposit or withdraw money but this is currently impossible. In the fullness of time, we want to make sure that customers can walk to any agent or merchant and transact,” said Telkom Kenya Chief Strategy and Business Development Officer Julius Cheptiony.

Safaricom’s Interim Chief Financial Services, Boniface Mungania noted that the operators are working to further broaden choice in the next phase of interoperability, but he couldn’t give timelines.

The paybill merchant interoperability is the secondary phase of mobile-money integration which had earlier in the year seen Airtel and Telkom customers access payments on M-Pesa tills.

Airtel Networks Kenya MD Ashish Malhotra said that interoperability makes them a complete operator.

“We’ve had voice and data services that we were playing in and now accessing over 400,000 merchants across Kenya giving us the chance to offer all possible services,” said Ashish.

Full interoperability is expected to provide a fair playing field for all service providers with competition now being driven by product and service offerings.

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The Central Bank of Kenya(CBK) has commended mobile money providers for their cooperation in achieving this milestone.

“Full interoperability will facilitate the deepening of the digitalization of payments, increasing choice, affordability, and customer-centricity of payment services, a key outcome outlined in the National Payments Strategy 2022-2025,” said CBK.

According to the apex bank, without full interoperability, customers were limited to the network they were on in order to make payments and had to resort to alternative methods that were neither customer friendly nor affordable.

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Nigel Jr.
As a tech enthusiast and expert, Nigel Jr. is dedicated to providing in-depth and insightful content on all things technology. With a background in online journalism, product reviewing, and tech creation, Nigel has become a trusted source for all things tech.

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