(Photo Courtesy of Getty images)

By Sophie K. Murithi


Safaricom PLC has joined hands with Airtel Money Kenya and Telkom Kenya to provide M-Pesa services to the two companies. The Communications Authority of Kenya and Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) launched the interoperability system which means the ability of computers or different software to exchange and make use of data of the companies on Friday, July 15, 2022.

This has marked the end of the second phase of complete Merchant Interoperability whose objective is to make it possible for users of the three mobile payment systems T-kash, M-PESA, and Airtel Money to send direct mobile payments to any merchant till number across all networks, increasing the convenience and acceptance of cashless transactions.

This means that both Airtel and Telkom subscribers can pay their bills online through Safaricom’s Pay-bill number which conducts both bulk payments and single transactions. This comes as a welcome addition to the Lipa na M-Pesa service which was launched on 8th April, 2022 by the three companies where customers can freely transact with Lipa na M-Pesa from any of the three networks.

This joined partnership between the three companies will hugely benefit its users in making several day-to-day payments for example, parents can now pay fees from any network not necessarily Safaricom.

Mobile phone users will be able to deposit and withdraw money from any agent starting in 2024, regardless of the network they are using. This will be similar to what happens with card payments, where businesses use a single device that works with different banking institutions.

According to Central Bank’s statistics, 1.82 trillion is the total money transacted by M-Pesa in the first quarter of the year; a notable increase from last year’s 1.6 trillion Kenya shillings. In the month of March, a total of 687.3 billion was transacted which according to CBK, is the largest number to ever be transacted in just one month. The sum is expected to increase because of transactions of subscribers from other networks.

M-Pesa services, i.e., Lipa na M-Pesa and Pay-bill have largely influenced the country and about 96% of Kenyans are using it. This has overtaken card payments mainly run by banks and other global companies like Visa and MasterCard.

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