Safaricom takes 99.9pc of mobile money market


Safaricom employee displays the M-Pesa money transfer service on a smartphone inside a mobile phone care centre in Nairobi on November 22, 2018. PHOTO | AFP

Safaricom #ticker:SCOM has grown its control of the mobile money market to 99.9 percent amid efforts by regulators to open its M-Pesa platform to interface with those from rival Airtel Kenya and Telkom Kenya in a bid to enhance competition in the sector.

Data from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) shows that M-Pesa has grown its share of the value of mobile money transactions in the last three years to hit Sh2.206 trillion (99.9 percent) out of the total of Sh2.208 trillion worth of transactions in 2021.

M-Pesa’s growth has eaten into the market of Airtel Money and Telkom’s T-Kash in the period with their shares dropping to 0.2 percent and 0.1 percent respectively.

Safaricom’s control of the market has prompted a push for regulatory changes initiated by its rivals who allege that the telco is abusing dominance.

The CBK, in a presentation to Parliament, said competition in the industry is being addressed through increased integration of the competing platforms.

“Key initiatives to impact the payments sector include full-scale interoperability to build on existing collaboration and progress to national switch ‘pay anyone anywhere,” CBK says in the presentation.

The regulator in 2020 published draft regulations to allow users to withdraw cash from an agent of their choice irrespective of whether they belong to Safaricom, Airtel, or Telkom.

Airtel and Telkom subscribers will also be allowed to pay for bills via Safaricom’s Lipa na M-Pesa if the proposed regulations get Parliamentary nod, marking the latest push to deepen financial inclusion in the country.

Safaricom has been uncomfortable with the push to open M-Pesa outlets to rival firms.

Mobile money has over the years grown to be a lucrative revenue stream for telcos as customers use them to send cash, pay for goods and services and take short-term credit.

The CBK data shows that Safaricom grew its control of the mobile money market from 99.7 percent in 2019 to 99.8 percent a year later.

Airtel Money has recorded a drop in its share from 0.3 percent in 2019 to 0.2 percent a year later while T-Kash grew from 0.004 percent to 0.006 percent in a similar period.

Since 2018, subscribers on the three telcos have sent money across mobile phone networks but can only withdraw cash from agents associated with the operator.

Airtel and Telkom have petitioned Parliament on several occasions for the government to declare Safaricom the dominant player in the sector, paving way for regulatory changes intended to boost their dwindling fortunes.

[email protected]