Airtel Money has been granted approval to raise its mobile money limits to KES 500,000 ($3,400), allowing customers to transact up to KES 500,000 daily, up from the previous KES 300,000 ($2,085). This move comes in the wake of Safaricom’s announcement yesterday, which also increased its M-PESA wallet limits to KES 500,000, up from KES 300,000.
Airtel Money has swiftly followed suit, gaining approval from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) to implement these enhanced limits. This means that Airtel Kenya’s mobile money users can now hold up to half a million Kenyan shillings in their wallets and conduct daily transactions of the same amount.
Despite these adjustments, the per-transaction limit will remain capped at KES 150,000 ($1,043), ensuring responsible financial management. Anne Kinuthia-Otieno, Airtel Money’s Managing Director, expressed her excitement about the CBK’s decision, emphasizing that this change will empower customers and partners by providing greater transaction flexibility and improved financial management.
The expansion of the daily transaction cap is expected to yield advantages for a diverse range of customers, including governmental entities and other stakeholders.
However, Airtel Money faces strong competition from the market leader, M-PESA. As of March 2023, M-PESA maintains a commanding 96.5% market share in the mobile money space, with Airtel Money holding a modest 3.4% and Telkom Kenya’s T-Kash trailing at 0.1%.
Efforts by the Central Bank of Kenya and other regulatory bodies to level the playing field in the mobile money sector have faced challenges, with M-PESA’s dominance remaining largely unshaken. While M-PESA’s influence extends across various payment service avenues, recent developments have introduced interoperability between different platforms.
The potential for Airtel Money and T-Kash to tap into M-PESA’s extensive agency network through agency interoperability could mark a significant turning point. Although M-PESA’s tills and pay bill numbers are already interoperable with Airtel Money and T-Kash, this hasn’t yet led to substantial shifts in creating an equal competitive landscape.
Conversations surrounding the potential opening of M-PESA’s agency network to competitors have surfaced, with the prospect of expediting the growth of other participants. However, formal announcements are pending, potentially due to delays. Safaricom’s substantial investment in its network’s development might be a factor in its reluctance to share this infrastructure with entities that didn’t contribute to its growth.