Ugandan customers can now make mobile money transactions with Kenya following a deal between Safaricom and MTN Uganda, a move seen to boost trade between the two countries.
This partnership comes months after Safaricom roped in Vodacom Tanzania and MTN Rwanda to introduce cross-border transaction between customers on the respective networks.
Betty Mwangi, Safaricom’s financial services director, said the initiative will provide a reliable and affordable way for businesses to transact across borders.
“This move by the private sector complements economic initiatives spearheaded by the East African Community heads of state,” Ms Mwangi said.
Uganda is one of Kenya’s top trading partners and the pact is not only expected to increase trade between the two nations, but also to offer cheaper remittance services.
High demand for M-Pesa in Uganda has seen unauthorised usage of the service for years driven mainly by the high Kenyan student population and traders operating from Kampala and other towns in the country.
Safaricom has more than 22 million M-Pesa users while about five million MTN customers use mobile money in Africa. “Our subscribers will be able to cash out at any of our 55,000 agents across the country,” said Phrase Lubega, MTN financial services general manager.
The transactions infrastructure between the two networks has been enabled by MFS Africa, a developer and distributer of mobile financial solutions to markets across Africa.
MFS Africa CEO Dare Okoudjou said: “We are confident that the cashless revolution that started in Kenya almost a decade ago, will now unlock not only intra-African remittances but also serve as a catalyst for trade and economic growth in the region.”
The funds will be sent in Kenyan shillings and received in Ugandan shillings, based on the prevailing exchange rate.