Mobile money transfer services are uniquely Kenyan, and the solution is almost synonymous to Safaricom’s M-PESA amidst other players such Airtel Money, Equity Bank’s Equitel Money and soon-to-be-rebranded Orange Money. This is because M-PESA has the highest number of subscriptions at 22,031,599 in addition to 135,544 agents who have pushed the value of the transactions up to KES 890,676,274,606 according to the recent, third quarterly sector stats report by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA).
While this segment is arguably crowded at the moment, Jamii Telecommunication Limited (JTL) may venture into the profitable business if its bid to register trademarks for a mobile money and payment services is to be valued.
The Business Daily reports that the JTL did apply for new trademarks, including Faiba Pay, Faiba Mobile and Faiba Money – all of which go in line with the company’s Faiba brand. These trademarks appeared in the June 2017 edition of the Industrial Property Journal.
Similar to what companies and stakeholders say about unreleased products, JTL insists that the trademarks have been listed to protect the Faiba brand and is no indicator of the company’s intent to jump right into the mobile money business. According to the company’s chairman Mr. Joshua Chepkwony, JTL is yet to seek regulatory approval for the solution, but a future rollout is still viable.
“At this point that is not our focus… At this stage we don’t think we are interested in the issue of mobile money. I can’t tell you what happens in the future,” said Mr Chepkwony.
Venturing into the mobile money business will spur tougher competition in the sector, although it will a hard nut to crack because competitors have legacy users who will not be willing to make a switch, unless the product offers innovative features. For instance, Safaricom has the numbers, reliability and reach, Airtel Money supports free cash transfers to any number and Equitel offers a robust experience especially on its Eazzy Banking app.
The public has 60 days to protest the trademarks as advised by the Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI).