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Kenya confirms merchant interoperability across mobile money networks

Kenya , 11 Apr 2022

The Central Bank of Kenya has confirmed that merchant interoperability between the mobile money networks is now in place, and it is making progress with efforts to achieve its goal of full interoperability by 2025.

The latest development means customers can pay merchants regardless of which network they are subscribed to.

According to the 2022 State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money, released by the GSMA, merchant payments were instrumental in the growth of the mobile money industry in 2021.

An excerpt from the report stated: “The value of merchant payments almost doubled, reaching an average of $5.5 billion in transactions per month. Providers are demonstrating that they can attract businesses to their platform with better incentives, such as efficient remote onboarding processes.”

Safaricom, for example, allowed companies to register for a merchant account online in Kenya, which has seen a growth of 18%.

The broader market consensus is that interoperability between mobile money networks - including Safariciom M-Pesa, Airtel Money and Orange Money - will benefit both merchants and their customers.

The Central Bank of Kenya stated: “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.”

In the National Payment Strategy, the financial regulator noted that the lack of interoperability between different stores of value means that businesses require multiple devices for different channels.

“An example of this includes mobile money and bank agents that require multiple handsets, POS devices and separate virtual floats for each PSP. This raises business operating costs,” it said.

In line with its newly released roadmap, the National Payments Strategy 2022 – 2025, Kenya’s Central Bank said the ability to make payments across networks ”creates a secure, fast, efficient and collaborative payments system that supports financial inclusion and innovations that benefit Kenyans.”

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