NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Kenyans are enjoying seamless transfer of money
from one mobile network to another following the launch of
The service that
commenced about a month ago is becoming a game-changer in the
sector where billions of dollars are moved annually.
Safaricom and Airtel started the interoperability service to
enable subscribers easily send and receive money from their
transfer of funds across networks was not only a complex process
but also costly and subscribers were inconvenienced.
transferred for instance from Airtel to Safaricom would not
reflect directly into one’s account due to lack of connection
between the platforms. It was cumbersome because one would not
know if the transfer has been effected,” Moses Mutua, who runs a
clothes and shoes shop in Nairobi, said on Thursday.
Besides that, market
leader Safaricom was charging premium fees to allow subscribers
send or receive money from Airtel. Airtel, on the other hand,
was offering lower charges in bid to woo customers.
were one of the reasons many Kenyans owned multiple SIM cards,
some up to four.
“Two years ago, I
forced all my seven farm workers in Migori to have Safaricom
lines so that it is easier for me to pay them. But that would
not have been the case if we had the seamless transfer of money.
I am happy the service is there now,” said Don Onyango, a
governance specialist in Nairobi.
Secretary Joe Mucheru noted that one of the key reasons Kenya
went for interoperability was to make sure that people are not
limited by a closed network and increase competition among
according to the Communication Authority, would also help
resolve the long-standing debate of dominance of market by one
“The objective is to
make sure that the customer gets the most benefit, helping to
boost financial inclusion,” said Central Bank of Kenya governor
Patrick Njoroge as he strongly backed the interoperability
Bernard Mwaso, a
consultant with Edell IT Solutions in Nairobi, termed the
service as a big boost to mobile money use in the East African
will over time improve customer experience and expand financial
inclusion as people will be able to be served by agents from any
network while increasing agency transaction. Definitely where
there are no restrictions, people interact more and this should
be the case with mobile money in this new era,” he said.
However, he noted
that with the bulk of mobile money subscriptions on Safaricom
network, which controls 80 percent of the market, uptake of the
service may not be faster.
“Airtel must work
harder to attract people to its network perhaps by lowering
charges for it to benefit from the service otherwise people
would not have any reason to send money to its network when the
numbers favor Safaricom,” he said.
ownership of multiple SIM cards by subscribers as another threat
to the service.
“This phenomenon in
Kenya is what killed SIM card porting in Kenya because people
saw no reason to port, get charged 2 U.S. dollars when they
could acquire another line at 0.2 dollars,” he noted.
Kenyans transacted a
record 36 billion dollars on mobile phones in 2017, up from 33
billion dollars in 2016.