Telecoms operator Airtel has renewed its battle with Safaricom over the sharing of mobile money agents one year after the competitions regulator helped the rival firms reach a negotiated settlement.

Airtel, through its lawyers Mukite Musangi Advocates, has written to Safaricom accusing it of coercing its mobile money transfer agents to remove Airtel branding from their shops and stop offering Airtel Money services failure to which they would have their M-Pesa tills disconnected.

The move, Airtel argues, is against a settlement the two firms had with the Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) on July 18, 2014 removing exclusivity of the M-Pesa agents and allowing them to offer rivals’ services.

See also: Safaricom sues Airtel for s******g its M-Pesa logo

Airtel claims that despite several assurances from Safaricom that it was investigating the matter, the defacing of Airtel’s branding has continued unabated and restrictions remain on M-Pesa agents offering services for rival firms. Safaricom has denied the a********n, insisting that it has not instructed any agent to deface or remove Airtel’s logo from any premises.

“We have not issued any directives to our agents or dealers to remove or alter any branding in their shops. Without any evidence these claims amount to unsubstantiated a*********s and a smear campaign against Safaricom,” said Stephen Chege, director of corporate affairs at Safaricom. “In fact, we are currently involved in a c********e with Airtel as they had previously pulled down Safaricom’s branding and were illegally using our M-Pesa logo without our consent.”

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The negotiated settlement agreement meant that investors could now run M-Pesa services with those of its rivals such as Airtel Money and Orange Money (from Telkom Kenya) in the same premises.

Airtel said that Safaricom’s “conduct (the removal of Airtel money branding) would only serve to aggravate an existing dispute in court and could in fact very well lead to the emergence of additional litigation.”

Opening up of M-Pesa outlets to rival mobile money products was seen as a big win for Airtel, which had been pushing for integration of mobile money services at the distribution and technological level to encourage competition.

Next read: http: Airtel renews market battle with Safaricom with Ksh19bn upgrade

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