One More Step to Full Mobile Money Interoperability as Cross-platform Paybill Service Goes Official

From left, Airtel Networks Kenya CEO - Ashish Malhotra, Safaricom PLC Interim Chief Financial Services - Boniface Mungania and Telkom Kenya Chief Strategy and Business Development Officer - Julius Cheptiony during the launch of Merchant Interoperability Paybill

At the start of the year, it was revealed that the CBK was planning to launch an interoperability system that would see Safaricom’s M-PESA become more accessible to customers using other mobile money products.

This was followed by till number interoperability. Ideally, Airtel Money and T-Kash customers could now use M-PESA till numbers to make payments for products and services. However, at that time, it was revealed that the development had snubbed paybill numbers.

While till numbers are free customers, save for select cases such as fueling at gas stations, paybill attracts a fee. It was, perhaps, for this reason, that Safaricom decided to hold the interoperability case for additional discussions.

This, however, is no longer the case. Today, customers from the said mobile money products can access Safaricom paybill services, meaning they can pay for services such as DStv regardless of the mobile money wallet at their disposal.

This is actually a great development, to say the least. Back in 2017, the CBK, among other stakeholders, had lobbied for mobile money interoperability. Later, the goal was achieved, meaning that customers could send cash interchangeably among M-PESA, T-Kash, and Airtel Money.

T-Kash users will first be able to access the service via USSD *160#.

Airtel Money customers can access this service via USSD *222# or *334#

Soon, agency interoperability will be actualized. It is going to take a while, as it’s projected to go live in 2024, and not 2023 as it had been anticipated. It will be big because smaller players have fewer agents. M-PESA, of course, leads the pack with more than 262K agents. Airtel Money has 23K, followed by T-Kash at 8K as of March 2022.

Safaricom still leads the group with more than 1.3 trillion in value of customer-to-business transfers. Airtel performed only 1.6 billion, followed by T-Kash at 86 million. This, obviously, highlights Safaricom’s upper hand in the space, which has been faulted as being too powerful and dominant.


Telkom Kenya’s CEO, Mugo KIBATI says: 

“From our interactive sessions with our customers, we have taken note that Kenyans appreciate mobile money solutions better when they keep on finding more reasons to attach value to their mobile wallets,  whether they are sending money, paying for goods and services, saving, borrowing or trading. The announcement made today, on Pay Bill interoperability, brings us closer to realizing a cashless economy,  further enhancing a seamless digital transactions ecosystem that gives the consumer more convenience and choice. Our customers will first be able to access this exciting addition via USSD *160#.” 

Safaricom’s CEO, Peter NDEGWA says:  

“Today’s launch of Pay Bill interoperability between M-PESA, Airtel Money, and T-Kash, follows that of  ‘Send Money’ and Till interoperability. This innovation extends even more convenience to customers and  businesses, transforming M-PESA into a one-stop solution to send and receive money and payments  from any financial service locally, and our global partners.”

Airtel Kenya’s CEO, Ashish MALHOTRA says:  

“We are excited to be part of this change that seeks to provide Kenyans with an affordable, convenient, and secure cashless payments platform that will provide more options that empower customers as they go about their day-to-day economic activity. Our customers can access this service via USSD *222# or *334#.”