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Corporate

Citi analysts see little competition for M-Pesa

A Safaricom agent carries out an M-Pesa transaction. PHOTO | FILE
A Safaricom agent carries out an M-Pesa transaction. PHOTO | FILE 

New entrants in the mobile money business are likely to pose minimal competition to Safaricom’s M-Pesa, analysts at Citigroup Global Markets have predicted in a research note on the company.

The exit of yuMobile from the local market is also likely to further dampen competition to the giant telecom’s firm, the investment bankers said in a report released on Friday.

Already several mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) have been licensed even though they are yet to start business.

Besides Equitel, other licensed firms include Zioncell Kenya and Tangaza’s Mobile Pay. Kenya Airways also signed a deal with Airtel last August to offer the MVNO services.

“While these (MVNOs) may give the appearance of added competition, they will struggle to dent Safaricom in our view,” said the analysts.

Safaricom is also unlikely to face an aggressive regulatory environment — even though it is a risk — due to its links with the state, the Citi analysts predict. The Treasury holds a 35 per cent stake in the company.

“Regulation is perhaps Safaricom’s biggest risk, particularly the threat of the company opening up its infrastructure to rivals. However, the government’s 35 per cent stake in Safaricom (the only profitable operator) could dampen the inclination for very aggressive regulatory interventions in our view,” said Citigroup.

The analysts see room for the company’s growth in non-voice segments, namely, mobile money and data.

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