Over the last couple of quarters, we started noticing that the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) was reporting less on the state of mobile money in Kenya. It began when the Authority kicked Equitel out of the statistics, but for good reason – which was that the product was linked to primary banking products (so, not mobile money), and ties to its mother company, Equity company.
The CA had also revealed at one time that M-PESA, which is run by Safaricom, was controlling more than 99 percent of the country’s mobile money market both in terms of customer base and revenue. This meant that other rivals, namely T-Kash and Airtel Money were essentially edged out of the market.
At the current times, the CA only publishes basic numbers, including the number of agents, value of customer to business transfers, person to person transfers, et al.
“As of 30th June 2022, mobile money subscriptions maintained an upward trend and recorded 37.2 million, representing a penetration level of 75.3 percent,” says the CA in a report.
Mobile money services
There are two major reasons why the CA has been reporting the bare bones of these important performance metrics. One of them is that M-PESA is so much ahead of the competition that there is no need to keep reporting the same from quarter to quarter.
The second reason could be the interoperability feature. Now, customers can send money among different mobile money wallets.
Paybill and Buy Goods services are also interoperable, but this is after the CBK intervened in the matter. This is akin to a similar product run by Equity Bank named One Equity Till Number, where merchants receive payments from multiple payment channels or mobile wallets through a single till number. Basically, merchants receive payments from customers using M-PESA, Airtel Money, PesaLink, Equitel, and Equity Mobile using One Equity Till Number without having to subscribe to multiple Paybill/Till numbers for their businesses.
Soon, likely before 2024, agency interoperability will be a thing. This, is perhaps, the major reason why other mobile services have not grown because M-PESA dwarfs them all in terms of agency coverage.
There has been a discussion on the manner this should be done. The approach is still under discussion among stakeholders, relevant authorities, and legislators.
Airtel Money was the first product to do so: it is now a separate entity from Airtel Kenya, meaning it is being run as a separate entity.
Telkom Kenya’s T-Kash was supposed to follow Airtel, but it has not been able to do so.
Safaricom’s M-PESA will be split from the company. This development will reportedly go live by January 2023 after the company forms a separate holding company that will run M-PESA, among other businesses, including the Ethiopian arm that has since gone live.
The same timeframe will likely apply for T-Kash too.
We hope that future reports will be comprehensive to allow us to assess the mobile money landscape in Kenya.
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