Safaricom could be forced to offer rival mobile money operators access to its extensive agent network in Kenya if the country adopts recommendations from a long-awaited competition study, Reuters reported.
According to Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) figures, Safaricom had 152,077 mobile money agents in the country by the end of December 2017. Its closest rival, Airtel Kenya, had 23,500. No other brand was available at more than 20,000 merchants.
Forcing Safaricom to offer access to this network is said to be one of a number of measures outlined in a report on increasing competition in the communications and finance sectors. The document was commissioned by the CA in 2016 and is still going through the editing process.
Its leaked findings have already caused outcry among Safaricom’s supporters and detractors.
The first version of the document featured a suggestion – now removed by the regulator – to force Safaricom to spin-off its m-Pesa mobile money operation from its communications business.
Another measure originally featured in the CA’s report was the introduction of interoperability between mobile money services. This has already been implemented by Safaricom and Airtel Kenya amid sustained pressure from authorities.
Safaricom dominates both Kenya’s mobile money and telecoms industries. GSMA Intelligence estimated its market share of mobile connections was 72 per cent at the end of Q1 2018. The CA’s latest mobile money subscription statistics – for the three months to end-December 2017 – put the company’s share of that market at 78 per cent.