Subscribers who use mobile money services deployed by Airtel Kenya and Equity Bank’s MVNO, Equitel, will no longer enjoy free select services that have, for a long time, been the plus side of using the two operators in the first place.
This means that Airtel users will be charged a fee for utility payments and person to person transfers. As of Friday, 27, Airtel mobile money subscribers are required to pay those service fees.
Equitel has been doing the same thing for a long time until it quietly introduced a flat fee of KES 30 for all money transfer transactions. The newest development is that utility bills, such air Kenya Power token purchases, among many others, will be serviced by a small fee.
Personally, the reason I have been using Equitel is to primarily avoid transaction fees that platforms such as M-PESA have had since day 1. This means some people, including yours truly, will need to look into a platform that charges the least amount of fees for services that have been free for a long time.
It should be noted that Airtel Kenya has struggled to make ends meet in the Kenyan market. The telco’s parent company, Bharti Airtel, recorded key losses in its home market, though Africa-based revenues improved as a result of gains made in data mobile money business. Correspondingly, it is possible the telco netted more users to bolster mobile money revenues (if data by Kenya’s Communications Authority is anything to go by). At the same time, the development may have been fuelled by interoperability that went live a few weeks ago.
We will look into the details of this matter before we can derive concrete insights based on how it will affect the aforementioned mobile money interoperability.