NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 4 – Economic experts are of the view that Kenya’s mobile money interoperability is inevitable going forward.
This is according to Deputy Director of Payments at Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Konstantin Peric who opines that interoperability is the new future in the Kenya’s mobile money market.
Peric says even though Kenya is the world leader in driving financial inclusion through digital financial services, it needs to step further and emphasise on market-led interoperability.
“Let’s look at Tanzania for example, the country was the first interoperable mobile money market in Africa where the three MNOs came together to allow their subscribers to send money across networks irrespective of their network; this led to a huge increase of financial inclusion especially in rural areas,” Peric told Capital FM Business.
He says Tanzania ownership of mobile money accounts surged from 1 percent of the population in 2009 to 32 percent in 2014.
Although it has been possible to send money through various mobile networks, this is was the first agreement in Africa to adopt such interoperability whereby telecoms allow their customers to send and receive money across networks and the e-money goes directly to the respective subscriber’s e-wallet account.
In Kenya you will find people using specific networks for mobile money and another network for voice calls as well as Short Message Services.
“It seems inevitable nonetheless, that operator resistance to interoperability has a limited shelf life. The rise of the cheap Smartphone in Kenya, as in the rest of the Africa, seems likely to ensure that in the not-too-distant future, MNOs with leading mobile money market share will be willing to cede some of their own ground in order to grow the addressable market,” Peric explained.
In Kenya 58 percent of the populace has mobile money accounts and 75 percent of Kenyan adults have a financial account of some kind.
The number of mobile money transfer services subscribers hit 26.8 million in 2015 while total amount of money transacted through mobile platform expanded by 18.7 percent to Sh2.8 trillion in 2015.
MPESA is the leader of the market with 20 million subscribers, Airtel has 26 percent of the market share while Orange has 10 percent.
According to Peric, digital accounts cut the cost of transactions by as much a 90 percent.
Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region in the world where more than
The total worth of Africa’s mobile money market is expected to top $14 billion in the next five years.