Two Large Mobile Money Systems Are Establishing Interconnect And That's Great For Cashless

East Africa’s two biggest mobile money operators, Vodafone M-Pesa and MTN Mobile Money, have joined forces to interconnect their mobile money services allowing the customers of both companies to transfer money conveniently.

I am very happy today. Africa is again setting an example for the whole world after establishing itself as a leader in mobile money. It is great to see that they are working together as an industry for the benefit of customers at large. Kudos to MTN and Vodafone and all the stakeholders involved in linking the two systems. We can't have tens and hundreds of wallets and mobile money schemes in each country (from startups, banks, operators, tech giants) where everyone is working on its own island and limited set of merchants. Interconnection is important and the need of the hour. If a customer can have his mobile money application working at all the merchants and transfer money to anyone, it will lead to greater good. Standardization and APIs and a "will" to do it can be the game changers.

This collaboration will facilitate international money transfers between M-Pesa customers in Kenya, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Mozambique and MTN Mobile Money customers in Uganda, Rwanda, and Zambia.

Under the terms of their Memorandum of Understanding, MTN Group and Vodafone Group will also share best practices and work together to define the rules and standards of mobile based money transfers in Africa.

MTN previously collaborated with The Western Union Company to launch a mobile money transfer service in the Ivory Coast, West Africa. The collaboration enabled international money transfers, utility payments, and purchases through mobile phones. It also enabled users to receive Western Union money transfer transactions directly on their mobile phones and a facility to collect money from one of the 900 Western Union Agent locations throughout the country.

M-Pesa was launched in March 2007 by Safaricom Limited in Kenya as a low cost money transfer service. It allows users to send and receive money through mobile phones even without having a bank account. It started its service in Kenya and expanded to Afghanistan, South Africa, India, and Eastern Europe. As of 31st Dec 2014, the service has approximately 19.5 million customers and 250,000 agents globally.

MTN Group is a leading emerging market operator, connecting subscribers in 22 countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. As of 31 March 2014, MTN recorded 210.1 million subscribers in those 22 countries.

Another major collaboration to be announced in the mobile money remittance service is the partnership between WorldRemit and VTN network Limited. The collaboration is aimed at launching a cross-border mobile money transfer service in Nigeria. VTN Network’s flagship product is branded VCASH, which runs on a patent-pending platform tested in Nigeria since 2007. The partnership between the two companies will enable VTN’s Vcash subscribers in Nigeria to receive money transfers directly into their mobile wallets and bank accounts from over 50 countries and territories around the world.

VTNETWORK Limited is a leader in Nigerien payment services. The Central Bank of Nigeria, NIBSS, Western Union, MasterCard, and VISA are the major partners of the company for the mobile payment services. The company’s VCASH service has over 1.6 million registered users and over 10,000 agents and merchants collectively. The service is fully licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria for mobile payments. It serves both m-payment and e-payment needs in the Nigerien marketplace.

WorldRemit is an online money transfer service that lets people send money through smartphones, tablets, or computers to their near and dear ones living abroad. WorldRemit’s service is available to senders in 50 countries and offers money transfer services to over 110 destinations across Africa, Asia, Europe, Americas and Australia.