Nairobi News


No, Airtel money clients will not withdraw from M-Pesa agents

Airtel money customers will not be able to withdraw funds from Safaricom’s M-Pesa agents and vice versa even as the two companies move to facilitate smooth flow of funds across networks under the interoperability mode that goes live tomorrow.

This is despite the fact that cash sent from Airtel Money to an M-Pesa line will reflect in real time.

Airtel said it still expects customers to withdraw money from agents of their respective networks because “agent interoperability is not available”.

“It all means that when an Airtel Money customer sends money to an M-Pesa customer, the account balance of the M-Pesa customer will be updated instantly and the M-Pesa customer can either go to an M-Pesa agent to withdraw the funds or use it in other mobile cash transactions,” said Airtel.

The telecom operators said on Friday that interoperability was aimed at easing the transfer of funds across networks by connecting mobile wallets.


Previously, a customer would receive a text alert from another network notifying them that money had been sent. They would then have to look for an agent of the network from which the money was sent to withdraw and then deposit the same into their own wallet. The money would be reversed to the sender if not withdrawn within seven days.

“Interoperability had been identified by a competition study as one of the important aspects with regard to ensuring effective competition in mobile money market. The initiative is, therefore, complementary to the findings of the study,” the Communication Authority said, adding that it does not expect interoperability to impact the competition study. The service on both networks will initially be available on USSD (short code) rather than within the apps.

“Subscribers on the Safaricom network will need to use a short code to send money, as opposed to sending money to other M-Pesa subscribers via Sim Toolkit or the Safaricom App,” Safaricom said.

Safaricom has dubbed its service, ‘M-Pesa Tuma Popote’, setting a minimum Sh10 and a maximum Sh70,000 limit for money being sent or received on M-Pesa.

Prevailing on net money transfer tariffs will apply to any money sent via ‘M-Pesa Tuma Popote’, while customers sending to unregistered recipients using the menu option will be charged the off net tariff.


“For cross-wallet transfer, we have shared our proposed tariff and the same is under review by the Central Bank of Kenya,” Airtel said.

Safaricom is the dominant player in the mobile money market, which accounts for 67 per cent of the mobile money agents and about 40,000 merchants, who accept M-Pesa payments.

The number of active mobile money transfer subscriptions and registered agents stood at 28.1 million and 184,537, respectively, according to Communication Authority statistics for the first quarter of 2107/2018.

M-Pesa controlled 80.8 per cent marketshare during the quarter under review. Equitel Money  accounted for 6.8 per cent of the market, while Mobikash had 6.3 per cent. Airtel Money and Mobile Pay Limited stood at 5.8 and 0.3 per cent market shares, respectively.