On Tuesday, the CBK, among other stakeholders announced that merchant interoperability for mobile money services would go live today.
The announcement, which had been preceded by talks that the whole development was being considered, revealed that Lipa na M-PESA services, which are owned by Safaricom, would let other players, namely Lipa na Airtel Money and T-Kash to use the platform.
The service is live now, but there is a catch.
Other players will use the Lipa na M-PESA, but only for Buy Goods or till, and not the paybill service.
Till that enables business owners to collect payments on the till and use the money collected to make other transactions directly from their till.
Pay Bill service is a cash collection service that allows your organization to collect money on a regular basis from your customers through M-PESA.
The latter is not available for interoperability for now, and no specific reason has been given for that omission.
However, it has been revealed that paybill interoperability will be supported in 2023.
While this is not what many people want, but it is still a step in the right direction as the country tries to manage the M-PESA dominance case.
Safaricom owns the mobile money space in terms of market share at 99.9 percent. This means that other products have not had the chance to compete favourably.
T-Kash and Airtel Money have substantially few customers and agency network. They have, therefore, not been able to innovate because of poor returns to support themselves.
In January, Equity Bank launched One Equity Till Number. This means that merchants can receive payments from customers using M-PESA, Airtel Money, PesaLink, Equitel, and Equity Mobile using One Equity Till Number without having to subscribe for multiple Paybill/Till numbers for their businesses.
This was what we expected would happen in the case of Lipa na M-PESA interoperability, but it appears that a lot of work is still in the pipeline before it becomes fully interoperable.