Kenya’s mobile phone operators offering mobile phone money transfer services are in for competition following the entry into the market of a new firm that will offer the service to subscribers from across all networks.
MobiKash Afrika Limited has joined the fray for a share of the market that currently has over 19 million potential users through a new platform that allows mobile phone subscribers from the existing four networks to send and receive money using their phones.
The new platform also works across all participating banks and delivers a wide range of services through a growing network of banks and agents across the country.
Besides sending or receiving money to and from any mobile network, among the other services offered to subscribers will include sending money to and from any of their bank accounts or MobiKash, real time bank to bank transfers as well as payment of bills from their bank accounts or MobiKash.
The new technology, the first of its kind in the world, is developed in partnership with Sybase 365, a global leader in mobile commerce and mobile messaging services, with a portfolio of more than 700 mobile operators and an estimated 3 billion subscribers around the world.
The launch of MobiKash follows a rigorous one-year commercial live pilot programme conducted across three banks – National Bank of Kenya, Postbank and Transnational Bank in compliance with the Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) and Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) regulatory framework.
MobiKash Chief Executive Officer Mr Duncan Otieno was quick to point out that the new service was not out to offer direct competition to mobile service providers, Safaricom and Airtel through their M-Pesa and Airtel Money services but to complement their services.
This however remains to be seen with the company aiming to enroll 300,000 subscribers within the first months of operation.
Subscribers to the service will be able to access a wide range of services to be provided under the service by over 3,000 agents who Mr Otieno said have already been contracted to be activated after the launch.
Speaking when he launched the new service in Nairobi, Kenya’s Information and Communication Minister Mr Samuel Poghisio said the new innovation was a manifestation of Kenya’s endeavour to use ICT to deliver tangible benefits across the socio-economic spectrum.
“With our efforts concerted towards achieving Vision 2030, innovative breakthroughs such as these take us many steps closer towards realizing the broader ideals across diverse frontiers,” said Mr Poghisio.
He said the launch of MobiKash would go a long way in complementing initiatives spearheaded by individual GSM operators that have so far seen approximately 14.5 million subscribers access mobile-based financial services.
Mr Otieno said the potential for the new service was unlimited noting that the one-year pilot phase had given MobiKash an opportunity to gauge some of the ripple effects of such a service in the market.
He said MobiKash was in talks with players within the financial service sector with a view to bringing on board more partnering banks.
The CEO said the unbanked stand to gain most from the new service especially through the Popote account that will be accessible through any MobiKash agent as well as directly through any of the partnering banks.
Central Bank of Kenya Governor Professor Njuguna Ndung’u said through such services, Kenyans will be able to enjoy reduced transactional charges through enhanced competition.
With MobiKash, subscribers will be able to send up to Sh100,000 and receive up to Sh100,000 daily with the minimum transaction being Sh50.
CCK Director General Michael Waweru said with the advancement of technology, it is upon individual companies to upgrade their security services in order to protect themselves against cyber crime. He said a center to monitor cyber crime in the region would be set up in Nairobi.