Airtel, Telkom customers can now make payments to Safaricom’s M-Pesa Pay Bill numbers

KENYAKenya’s mobile network operators: Telkom, Safaricom, and Airtel, have announced that Kenyans can now make direct mobile money payments to an M-PESA Pay Bill Number from any network.

This move follows the telcos’ announcement in April this year, which saw Kenyans being able to make mobile money payments to M-PESA Buy Goods and Services Tills from any network.    

The objective of the interoperability of Kenya’s mobile money service platforms is to allow Kenyans to make direct mobile money payments to any M-PESA merchant Pay Bill Number and Merchant Tills, from any network, thereby boosting the adoption and convenience of making cashless payments.

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

“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,” Telkom Kenya’s CEO, Mugo Kibati said.

“The announcement made today, on Pay Bill interoperability, brings us closer to realising 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#.”

This proposition is also in line with the principles of the National Payments Strategy, 2022 – 2025, that was launched by the Central Bank of Kenya in February this year which seeks to achieve a secure, fast, efficient and collaborative payments system that supports financial inclusion and innovations that benefit Kenyans:

“Today’s launch of Pay Bill interoperability between M-PESA, Airtel Money and T-Kash, follows that of ‘Send Money’ and Till interoperability,” Safaricom’s CEO, Peter Ndegwa said.

“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.”

Business owners are charged a maximum of 0.5 percent per transaction for money collected on the till, says Safaricom on its websites.

The CBK said the increased use of mobile money at agents and merchants through platforms like Lipa na M-Pesa had been constrained by lack of interconnection among the telecommunications operators.

More than 30 million people in Kenya use M-Pesa, which also allows users to send cash and make payments by phone, save and borrow. Safaricom had 258,000 mobile money agents at the end of September, leaving rivals to control the remaining 31,255 outlets.

This dominance plays out in the merchant payment segment.

Safaricom’s Lipa na M-Pesa merchants grew by 72.8 percent to 387,000 in the review period, highlighting the impact of increased preference for cashless transactions.

Its till and pay-bill service has risen to take an 85.8 percent market share of non-cash payment for ordinary goods and services, underlining the entrenchment of the mobile money platform in everyday transactions.

Lipa na M-Pesa was launched in June 2013 and has aggressively recruited merchants across the country, including large and small businesses such as fuel stations, supermarkets, corner shops and eateries.

This has seen it overtake the card payments — run by banks and their global payments technology partners such as Visa and Mastercard — that have largely focused on serving formal retailers.

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