Safaricom in talks with five firms on M-Pesa’s future

Safaricom Chief Executive Bob Collymore

Mobile service provider Safaricom has announced that it is in discussions with five companies to broaden the availability of M-Pesa services.

The operator said it is close to finalising the process of increasing the mobile money platform’s interoperability with the five firms — which it did not name — in the next one year as it “seeks more ways to deepen financial inclusion”.

“We see this as a natural progression given the growing uptake of mobile money in the economy. We plan to close this process within the next 12 months,” said Safaricom Chief Executive Bob Collymore.

Currently, several operators in the technology space already have in place comprehensive infrastructure-sharing agreements, which have been negotiated according to the commercial needs of each operator.

Market position

Safaricom currently shares infrastructure, with among other firms, Airtel, Telkom Kenya, Multichoice, Kenya Wildlife Service, KBC, Wananchi, Jamii Telkom, PANG, Liquid Telecom and Access Kenya.

The telco has consistently opposed the view that it is a dominant player in the market, making it difficult for other players to grow. The firm said contrary to this, it supports partnerships that are mutually beneficial with other firms.

“It is important to note that M-Pesa has achieved its current market position after nearly 10 years of sustained investment in building the required technologies and agent networks to ensure it remains relevant to market needs,” said Mr Collymore.

The CEO added that Safaricom has consistently invested between Sh28 billion and Sh30 billion annually over the last four years to continue expanding its network and create a strong partner ecosystem.

“Already, mobile money operators not only in Kenya, but also across the region, have established interoperability agreements for mobile money, including sharing of agent networks and enabling transactions between systems. We believe that any operator who wants to succeed in this market must commit to investing in a compelling product for their customers,” said Collymore.