Telkom Kenya plans mobile-money services by year end


Telkom Kenya, a joint venture between France Telecom SA and the East African nation’s government, plans to introduce mobile-banking services by year-end in partnership with a ‘main’ local bank.

Mobile-phone operators in East Africa’s biggest economy are diversifying into banking products to fill a gap in a country where four out of every five people don’t have a bank account – reports Bloomberg. Penetration of mobile phones in Kenya is about 51% in a population of 38.6 million, according to the Communications Commission of Kenya.

‘We’re providing a much richer product’ than competitors, Snehar Shah, head of Orange Money, as the service is known, told a conference in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital. The service will allow users to send money from abroad, carry out electronic banking, and pay for goods and services online, as well as transfer funds locally, Shah said. It will be backed by ‘strategic partners,’ he said, declining to name them.

As of July, 11.9 million people in Kenya used their mobile phones to send and receive cash through M-Pesa, the mobile money transfer service pioneered by Safaricom in March 2007.

Telkom Kenya will also compete with the country’s second- biggest mobile-phone operator, Zain Kenya, the local unit of Bharti Airtel, whose money-transfer service is called Zap. The country’s fourth mobile-phone operator, Essar Telecom Kenya, operates a version of the system known as YuCash.