Search This Blog

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Listed-telco Safaricom has issued notice of new charges to be imposed on bank to MPESA transactions.

In a statement  Safaricom said that Bank to Third-Party MPESA wallets will now incur charges similar to those it charges for person to person money transfer on MPESA.

Interestingly, this notice has been issued after rival Equitel informed customers that Safaricom had imposed new charges for transferring money from its service to MPESA.

However, insiders say the charges apply to all banks and are to come into effect later this year. Safaricom apparently discovered that Banks have been offering to transfer money from one bank account to another person's MPESA line other than the owner of the bank account and charging for it yet Safaricom has not been charging for this service.

"They are using our infrastructure," one source said.

This now means if you go to the Bank and ask them to transfer some money from your account to your supplier's  MPESA account, it will be charged the rate for sending that amount of money.

In principle, since banks are unlikely to bear these charges, it means customers will have to pay for this service over and above what banks have been charging and retaining.

What is not clear from the statement is whether bank's will be revenue sharing partners in this or will simply pay Safaricom for using its infrastructure.

Although the service has been existing, Safaricom now says this is a new service for which it has sought and received approvals from the Central Bank of Kenya.

In other words, banks have led Safaricom to discover another use for its MPESA infrastructure.

Banks will be expected to issue their positions on the matter in the coming days.

It will also put an interesting spin on whether Equitel can be classified as a bank to MPESA transaction.

Banks plan to launch their own switch allowing mobile money transfer from one bank to another in November.

*This blog post has been updated. It has been amended to correct the inaccurate assertion that these new charges apply to a customer sending money from his bank account to HIS Mpesa account. The new charges apply to sending money from his bank account to SOMEBODY ELSE's bank account.

The chart below issued by Equitel shows prevailing tariffs in the market.

Friday, August 21, 2015


Content giant Naspers, which owns Multichoice, has launched a video on demand (VoD) service that is seen as a first strike against the impending arrival of streaming giant, Netflix.

ShowMax to be ran separately from Multichoice, will allow unlimited online streaming of movies and videos for a flat monthly fee.

The service has first been launched in South Africa but given that rival Netflix has continental ambitions, it is expected that ShowMax will ride on Multichoice's vast network on the continent to rapidly roll out.

For Kenya this could be interesting as Safaricom already has a similar service that has yet to gain traction and is said to be looking to improve on its BigBox with a second upgraded version of the same said to be under construction.

However, Safaricom is not quite interested in content as it is in uptake of its LTE service and suggestions have been made that products like ShowMax could partner with Safaricom as they can provide the content while the telco provides the infrastructure for streaming.

Currently, a visit to gives this notice: Sorry, ShowMax is not available in your country yet. Enter your email and we'll let you know as soon as ShowMax is available.

This suggests the rollout is imminent. ShowMax claims to have over 10,000 hours of content implying streaming 24/7 would keep you glued to your laptop or phone until November 2016.

It is not known if Zuku will be introducing such a service but Jamii Telecom (JTL) has always toyed with IPTV and streaming-like services which it has yet to bring to market.

Thursday, August 20, 2015


The sun is rapidly setting on Sunil Bharti's pan-African adventure with reports that his Airtel Group is selling four more African units to operator Tigo.

These include Uganda, Niger and Gabon as Bharti Airtel looks to cut its losses on the African continent.

Speculation is now rife that Tigo could also end up taking over the Kenyan unit with pundits predicting a total Airtel exit by February next year.

Tigo is growing rapidly in the African markets it operates in and is present in Tanzania, Rwanda, Chad, Ghana, Congo DRC and Senegal.

The current MD of Airtel Kenya Adel Youseffi was previously heading the Tigo Ghana operation.

Tigo is a brand name of Millicom International, an outfit that was started in Raleigh, North Carolina in the US and went on to have stunning successes after successes.

For instance, when it was offered a mobile license in partnership with Racal Communications in Britain, it launched its Voice And Data Phone (Vodafone) which is the global behemoth we know today.

It then created China Telecom in that country and that is now the world's largest mobile operator.

It later started another rival network to Vodafone in the UK which it called Orange. This was bought out by Vodafone itself and later sold to France Telecom and is the global behemoth we know today as Orange.

It remains to be seen if it will make a play for the Kenyan Airtel unit.