It has been a long way coming but finally all the three major mobile networks have their mobile money platforms. This has been followed by interoperability which went live this year opening the doors for mobile money transfer across different networks.
At the moment this feature seems to be the reserve of Airtel Money and M-Pesa. Telkom has since interoperability on their mobile money service T-kash. Safaricom has been uncharacteristically quiet about this service on their end however it’s active. They’ve dubbed it M-PESA Tuma Popote and can be accessed by dialling *234*1*8#.
Now that some healthy dose of competition has been injected into this space, the ball is on the subscriber’s court to make the most out of it. So which among these three offers the best value for your money?
M-PESA has the upper hand already with its huge subscriber base, wide adoption but most importantly, its huge network of agents scattered throughout the country. Airtel Money and T-kash have some catching up to do especially in this last point..
The second aspect are the transaction charges, otherwise known as tariffs or rates that each of these networks charge when one transacts on their platforms.
Mobile Money Rates Comparison
The following is a comparison of the transfer and withdrawal charges across these three mobile money platforms:
|Rates Compared (click to enlarge)|
- The table has been updated to reflect the revised M-PESA rates effective
starting from 1st July 2018. The table with the old rates can be found here.
- N/A – Not Applicable (i.e. not possible)
- The minimum amount allowable for transfer on Airtel Money is Ksh.10 and not Ksh.1 as it is the case with M-PESA and T-kash (note the asterisk*)
- The charges for sending money on-net and off-net are the same. This however only applies to Airtel Money and M-PESA which are the only networks that have implemented interoperability at the time of this writing.
- The maximum daily transaction on both Airtel Money and M-PESA is set at Kshs.140,000 with the maximum amount per transaction being Kshs.70,000.
- Maximum Account Balance for M-PESA is Kshs.100,000 and for Airtel Money is Kshs.140,000.
- On Airtel Money subscribers from other networks cannot withdraw more than Kshs.35,000 per transaction.
As you can tell from my very busy table up there, M-PESA is by far the most expensive of the three followed by T-kash. Airtel Money is the cheapest with some of their rates nearing half of what M-PESA charges. Also since the on-net and off-net rates are similar in both instances, that means sending money off-net with Airtel Money is actually cheaper than sending money on-net with M-PESA.
The withdrawal charges are however completely identical between Airtel Money and M-PESA. I suppose this is Airtel’s way of balancing things out since money sent off-net has to be withdrawn from the agents belonging to the recipients’ network. Safaricom has since revised their rates upwards starting 1st July 2018 so the rates are no longer identical.
For obvious reasons, Safaricom is very adamant about letting anyone waltz into one of their M-PESA agents shop and expect to withdraw money from an Airtel Money account. It’s perhaps their way of evening things out taking into account their huge investment in building their expansive agent network across the years.
So that’s it. It’s my hope that this table will go a long way in helping make the right choice for you or your business in matters mobile money. Feel free to share or use it anywhere you’d wish. Some attribution would however be much appreciated.