Telkom Kenya has entered into a deal with PesaPal -an online payment platform aimed at easing access of its airtime as it seeks to grow its market share in data and boost sales.
The partnership will enable Telkom Kenya’s data subscribers top up their modems using its rivals mobile money transfer services such as M-Pesa, Airtel Money and yuCash, and other card payment systems such as Visa and Master cards that have signed up with PesaPal.
At the moment Orange subscribers top up by buying the cards in retail outlets or from Orange Money; however it says the deal will now enable Orange data customers also owning other SIM cards to use them to top up their modems.
In the deal PesaPal will benefit from a commission ranging from 3.5 per cent to 2.7 per cent of the volume of transactions made through its platform.
“The service aims to grow our airtime distribution by leveraging on existing e-commerce platforms,” said Mickael Ghossein, Telkom Kenya’s executive officer.
He added that the new top-up service aims at facilitating Orange data customers, who have their voice lines with alternative operators, top up directly from their respective mobile money accounts.
“Our data customers that may have subscribed to other networks due to their voice offerings will now have the flexibility of purchasing data bundles directly from their mobile money accounts,” he said, adding that this was informed by the fact that Kenya’s mobile telecoms market is characterised by multi-SIM users, with subscribers using different SIM cards from various networks for different services such as voice and data.
Despite having an elaborate data infrastructure in the country, lack of vast agents’ network has made it difficult for Orange to grow its mobile data share, in a market currently dominated by Safaricom.
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Statistics from the industry regulator, Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK), indicates that, Telkom Kenya has 674,255 subscribers to June 2012 up from 610,142 in June 2011.
Safaricom which controls the market has 5.2 million data subscribers followed by Airtel that has 1.1 million data subscribers while yuMobile has 644,250 data subscribers.
The battle to get control of the data market has intensified since 2010 with mobile operators reducing their reliance on voice revenue that has been eroded by a vicious two year price war and as a result make the mobile operators to invest heavily on network that can accommodate data.
Orange invested over Sh4 billion for its 3G network. Airtel intends to invest Sh8 billion for network upgrade while Safaricom has put a budget of Sh12 billion to build its own inland fibre cable.