Increasing interoperability between mobile money payment providers has been a top priority for the Central Bank of Kenya: in early April, it announced this would be possible between Airtel Networks Kenya Limited, Safaricom PLC, and Telkom Kenya Limited.
This is an important step in the evolution of Kenya’s payment services, as it allows customers of these mobile money providers to make payments to any merchant regardless of the network they subscribe to.
Without merchant interoperability of mobile money services, customers were forced to use alternative payment methods, including making transfers across networks, when making payments to merchants that are on different networks. This new service will further deepen the digitalisation of payments to large and small businesses using the already extensive mobile money rails, and therefore enabling customers to conveniently make payments.
The lack of full interoperability has increased the complexity, time and costs associated with making payments. As outlined in the National Payments Strategy 2022-2025 the overall aim is to provide customers with a seamless, secure and affordable means to send and receive money in any network. CBK will continue to guide and facilitate the efforts to achieve full-scale interoperability across the payments ecosystem.
This new service builds on the person-to-person (P2P) interoperability that was implemented in 2018. It is a testament to close collaboration between the mobile money providers and also with CBK. In subsequent phases, interoperability will be extended to additional mobile money services such as pay bills and agents, to make the objective of ‘pay anyone anywhere’ a reality. Increased interoperability brings us closer to realising the vision of “a secure, fast, efficient and collaborative payments system that supports financial inclusion and innovations that benefit Kenyans.”