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Payment Services: Safaricom, Airtel, Telkom Integrate Mobile Money Services

Kenyan telcos have launched merchant interoperability, providing businesses with a platform to manage their businesses better by allowing merchant payments outside the network.

L-R: Airtel MD and CEO Prasanta Das Sarma, Telkom Kenya CEO Mugo Kibati and M-Pesa Africa MD Sitoyo Lopokoiyit.

Customers in Kenya will now be able to pay for goods and services through Lipa Na M-Pesa from any network. 

This is after Kenya’s leading telcos Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom announced merchant interoperability through their mobile money services.

The merchant interoperability however will entail the ‘Lipa Na M-Pesa Buy Goods Till’, excluding the Paybill option whose consideration has been pushed to a later date.

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) termed the move as an important step in the evolution of Kenya’s payment services, as it allows customers of these mobile money providers to make payments to any merchant regardless of the network they subscribe to.

“Without merchant interoperability of mobile money services, customers were forced to use alternative payment methods, including making transfers across networks, when making payments to merchants that are on different networks. This new service will further deepen the digitalisation of payments to large and small businesses using the already extensive mobile money rails, and therefore enabling customers to conveniently make payments,” said CBK.

Customers belonging to any of the three mobile money service platforms, T-kash (Telkom), M-Pesa (Safaricom), and Airtel Money (Airtel) will now be able to make direct mobile money payments to any merchant till number, across all networks.

“Safaricom is delighted to partner with other industry players on this exciting innovation to empower mobile money customers in the country to make payments through Lipa Na M-Pesa. This partnership builds on the successful rollout of mobile money interoperability making it possible for customers to send and receive money from any network in the country,” Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa said.

Kenyan telcos have launched merchant interoperability allowing merchant payments outside the network.

This new service builds on the person-to-person (P2P) interoperability that was implemented in 2018.

“Kenya remains a global leader in the adoption of mobile money, with transactions in the billions of shillings reflecting the evolving customer demand for secure transactions. In addition to enriching our financial service offering, the introduction of merchant interoperability brings us closer to realising a cashless economy, further enhancing a seamless digital transactions ecosystem that gives the consumer more choice,” Telkom Kenya CEO Mugo Kibati said.

This proposition is also in line with the principles of the National Payments Strategy, 2022 – 2025, which was launched by the CBK in February of this year.

“I am delighted to see Kenya take this big step to enable customers to make payments to mobile money merchants, irrespective of their mobile money provider. Our customers will also experience a dynamic, secure, convenient, and more affordable digital payment ecosystem for personal and business payments,” Airtel Kenya CEO Prasanta Das Sarma said.

The second phase towards complete merchant interoperability will see Kenyans make mobile money payments from M-PESA to Till Numbers on other networks: Airtel Money and T-kash.


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