Under the new set-up, Airtel or Telkom subscribers will be able to use Lipa na M-Pesa till numbers to complete payments.
Under the new set-up, Airtel or Telkom subscribers will be able to use Lipa na M-Pesa till numbers to complete payments. [Photo/ Techpoint.Africa]

Safaricom is gearing up to unveil interoperability this week for its Lipa na M-Pesa payments platform – opening it up to customers of its rivals Airtel and Telkom.

The launch of interoperability for merchant payments is scheduled for Friday, April 7. It is expected to make it cheaper and easier for consumers to transact regardless of their telco.

Under the new set-up, Airtel or Telkom subscribers will be able to use Lipa na M-Pesa till numbers to complete payments.

Interoperability has been a thorny issue in the discussion on mobile money in Kenya – a market dominated by Safaricom’s M-Pesa which has a 99.9% share.

Lipa na M-Pesa is a payments platform for merchants built into M-Pesa. It is used by businesses across Kenya to receive payments from customers every day.

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Details on the charges under the new inter-operable set up are yet to be disclosed.

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) had identified high transaction fees and the interoperability challenge as the main challenges associated with leading mobile money platforms.

In a strategy paper, the CBK noted that enabling seamless payments would drive increased growth in digital payments.

“This trend is expected to continue increasing once initiatives such as interoperability are fully rolled out, allowing customers to seamlessly transact across the ecosystem irrespective of their provider,” the CBK observed.

A Senate committee probing alleged monopolistic practices was also told of similar challenges.

It will the biggest move towards interoperability in the mobile money space since the linkage of M-Pesa with Airtel Money in 2018.

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