Two of Africa’s largest mobile money providers, Orange and MTN, formed a joint venture called Mowali to deliver an interoperability platform enabling fund transfer between any of the continent’s 338 million accounts.
In a statement, the two operators said the venture would “scale-up financial services across Africa”, adding Mowali had the potential to support new service development and drive financial inclusion.
Mowali has been designed for use by banks, financial service providers and existing mobile money providers, but will initially only support transfers involving Orange and MTN mobile money customers.
The two operators have a combined total of 100 million accounts across 22 markets in sub-Saharan Africa. Other major sector players on the continent include Airtel, Vodacom/Safaricom and Millicom’s Tigo.
Stephane Richard, Orange CEO, said: “By providing full interoperability between platforms, Mowali will provide an important step forward that will allow mobile money to become a universal means of payment in Africa.”
MTN CEO Rob Shuter added: “One of MTN’s goals is to accelerate the penetration of mobile financial service in Africa, Mowali is one such vehicle that will help us achieve that objective. Furthermore, co-operation and partnerships that help us accelerate the pace of development and overcome some of the scale, scope and complexity of challenges that society faces are key.”
Both Orange and MTN have been vocal of late on their ambitions for mobile money services. Shuter has regularly illustrated his aim for MTN to become “Africa’s biggest bank”, while Orange frequently uses its corporate updates to hail the rapid growth of its platform.
Industry association GSMA cites interoperability as one of the major accelerators of financial inclusion in Africa.
GSMA director general Mats Granryd said: “The creation of Mowali will help to further transform mobile financial services throughout the African region. It demonstrates the mobile industry’s continued leadership and commitment to driving financial inclusion and economic empowerment through industry collaboration.”
In addition to operator-led initiatives, regulators in several African countries have enforced interoperability on providers this year – including in Kenya, Ghana and Tanzania.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back