Airtel, Millicom and Zantel announce Africa’s first mobile money interoperability agreement

A new agreement between Airtel, Zantel and Millicom’s Tanzanian subsidiary Tigo will allow customers in the country to send money to each other whether using Tigo Pesa, Airtel Money or EzyPesa on their mobile handsets. The service is expected to begin this month.

This is the first agreement in Africa to adopt interoperable mobile money services, whereby one network allows another network’s customers to send money to its own clients.  In the early years of the mobile industry, such agreements were common for both voice calls and SMS text messaging.

With this agreement, the potential number of customers able to send money by mobile to each other in Tanzania, regardless of network, will increase to over sixteen million.

The three firms have welcomed the recent statement by Vodafone supporting the principle of such interoperability and are reportedly keen to conclude a similar agreement with Vodacom in Tanzania.

Diego Gutierrez, Tigo’s General Manager for Tanzania, commented “With even more transactions possible, our customers’ money is made even more safe and secure with this technology. Just as we co-operate with our competitors on voice calls and text to help our customers, so we hope to be able to do the same with mobile money and help make Tanzania a global pioneer in digital financial inclusion.”

Airtel Managing Director Sunil Colaso said:  “Airtel is committed to introduce to our customers new innovative services that look beyond competition, a tremendous evolution to ensure mobile inclusion that is sought by many Tanzanians taking into account our reach across the country.”

Zantel’s Managing Director Pratap Ghose, said “Zantel  has a strong commitment to excellence and innovation, and thus is happy about this partnership which will enable all our customers to conduct their businesses efficiently and with ease across Tanzania.  “Zantel is proud to have been the pioneer in launching Mobile payments in 2008; and hence will work with the industry  and the regulatory bodies to ensure that we offer ‘best in class’ service to our customers” added Mr.Ghose.

The three companies also paid tribute to the Bank of Tanzania (B.O.T) for facilitating interoperability, the Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation and IFC for playing the leading role on this initiative.


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