New era dawns as Kenya moves to cross network mobile money transfers

A new era for mobile banking in Kenya kicks in as internetwork mobile money transfers expected to kick off this week on 10 April 2018, the new service will allow customers to send money to any network without fear of the transaction being reversed in case of delay in withdrawal.

Previously, one could still send money from Mpesa to Airtel for instance, and the Airtel money subscriber would get a text notification of the receipt. However, the money was not sent to their account, they had to withdraw the money and deposit in their own accounts within seven days otherwise, the amount would be reversed to the sender. The new interoperability system is set to change that.

“It all means that when an Airtel Money customer sends money to an M-Pesa customer, the account balance of the M-Pesa customer will be updated instantly and the M-Pesa customer can either go to an M-Pesa agent to withdraw the funds or use it in other mobile cash transactions, we have shared our proposed tariff and the same is under review by the Central Bank of Kenya,” said Airtel.

Mpesa has dubbed its cross-network transfer service Mpesa Popote, which will allow sending and receiving  between sh10-sh 70,000 per transaction

The move to cross-network interoperability was necessitated by recommendations from a study by research firm Analysys Mason, which had been commissioned by the Communications Authority of Kenya to investigate dominance and competition in Kenya’s telecommunication industry. The report suggested inter-network mobile operability as an alternative to another recommendation it had made of splitting Safaricom and Mpesa into two separate entities to allow for better competition.

A move that faced opposition including from ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru, “The government has been very clear that it does not want to slit Mpesa from Safaricom, “said Mucheru as reported by The Star in March this year.

Under the new service, subscribers of both networks will be able to send money to each other via USSD code instead of the usual sim toolkit or mobile app.


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