Kenya's Safaricom Drops Exclusivity Rule for Mobile Money Agents

Money Transfer

Kenya's dominant mobile network, Safaricom has dropped a rule that barred its mobile money agents from working with other mobile networks.

The company had tried to enforce a rule that a mobile money agent was only allowed to handle transactions for its customers, but pressure from rival mobile networks and an investigation by the regulator seem to have forced a reversal of that position.

The move enables the smaller networks, such as Airtel and Orange to more quickly expand their own mobile money services as they no longer have to seek out new independent dealers in each village. It also boosts the potential income for the dealers as they can handle more transactions from a wider pool of customers.

"We made a strategic decision in February 2014 to remove all exclusivity provisions in our M-Pesa agent contracts," Safaricom corporate affairs director Nzioka Waita said in a statement. "All our 85,000 M-Pesa agents are, therefore, free to engage with whomever they please."

"This was a commercial decision and not one that was forced upon us by any regulatory authority. We are confident that this decision will not negatively impact our business in any way that we cannot comfortably mitigate," Mr Waita added.

Safaricom is also coming under pressure to open up its network to allow mobile money transactions between networks.