How Kenya’s mobile money is opening up now middlemen have been set free
Friday, August 22, 2014
Over the past several years the green, red and white logo of Safaricom’s mobile money service M-Pesa has become all but ubiquitous in Kenyan cities, towns and even villages, as tens of thousands of agents signed up to enable Kenyans to send money through their phones.
Until recently, these agents had been forbidden to sell mobile money services for any company but Safaricom. All of that changed in July, when the Communication Authority of Kenya (CAK) ordered the telco to open up that extensive sales network to competitors.
For Kenya’s second biggest mobile money provider, Bharti Airtel, the ruling represents something of a coup. As of June, Safaricom controlled 85,000 of the country’s nearly 121,000 mobile money agents; it’s a figure that reflects the company’s market share, which stands at around 75 percent, said Danson Njue, telecoms analyst for researchers Ovum. “We are looking at a market that has been dominated by just one player,” he said.