Safaricom and MTN in joint Uganda M-Pesa deal

Safaricom has partnered with Uganda’s operator MTN to enable Mpesa customers send money to Uganda, ending a long-standing battle with illegal agents in that country.

Mpesa will now operate officially in Uganda after the telco shutdown several illegal Mpesa agency businesses in the neighbouring country in June.

The new partnership follows similar ones signed with Vodacom of Tanzania and MTN of Rwanda earlier in the year.

“This is yet another affirmation of our intention to make it possible for our individual and business customers to enjoy convenient, affordable and reliable mobile money services across the borders,” said Safaricom’s director financial services Betty Mwangi.

The partnership is expected boost trade benefitting over 22 million Mpesa customers, as Uganda remains Kenya’s largest trading partner in the region.

It is also expected to benefit more than five million MTN mobile money customers in Africa.

“Our subscribers will be able to cash out at any of our 55,000 agents across the country,” said Phrase Lubega, MTN Uganda’s general manager mobile financial services.

The transactions infrastructure between the two networks has been enabled by MFS Africa.

“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,” MFS Africa CEO Dare Okoudjou said.

Under the new deal, funds will be sent in Kenyan shillings and received in Ugandan shillings based on the prevailing exchange rate as at midnight.

In the June crackdown, Safaricom blocked illegal Mpesa traders in Uganda disabling deposits and withdrawal transactions for clients.

In 2009, Safaricom made another crackdown on illegal Mpesa business in Uganda, cutting out thousands of Kenyan students and workers from accessing money sent from home.