Telecom firms are expected to begin trialing mobile money transfer from one network to the other from this month.
Safaricom #ticker:SCOM said that the companies had signed the requisite agreements to set up the system — called interoperability — and that a pilot phase was expected in the third week of January.
“The necessary interoperability agreements have been executed between the mobile operators and at the moment, all operators are in the final stages of aligning their systems to facilitate the rollout of the service,” said Safaricom chief executive, Mr Bob Collymore, in a statement to the Business Daily.
A spokesperson from Airtel did not provide exact dates but said that the discussions were in progress and that “hopefully everything will be concluded in early 2018.” The service will allow Kenyans to transfer money seamlessly from one network to another.
Last year, Mr Collymore said that the operators had agreed to set up a fund from which they would draw to settle debts incurred in cross-network transactions.
He also said that the companies had agreed not to pay interconnection fees for terminating transactions on each other’s network as they do when subscribers make cross-network phone calls. Interoperability became topical and urgent with heated debate on competition in the sector last year.
A consultant hired by the Communications Authority of Kenya last year proposed that operators implement mandatory interoperability by the end of 2017, failure to which Safaricom would be split from its mobile money business as a remedy to the lack of competition in the sector.
While the proposal was quickly shelved, the Ministry of Information urged the mobile operators to implement their own interoperable system before being forced to do so by the government.