Airtel Kenya launches Akiba Mkononi to take on M-Shwari


In December 2015, the  Communications Authority of Kenya has released Q1 sector statistics report for the financial year 2015/2016 (July-September 2015). The statistics in the Mobile Money sub-sector showed that Airtel Money, Airtel Kenya’s mobile money service had 3 Million registered users and 9.986 active agents. Airtel has been keen on growing this segment of its business and has in the recent past partnered with banks.

In 2014, the telco partnered with Chase Bank in the launching  the Airtel Money VISA card, a that allowed customers to withdraw cash from any Visa or Kenswitch ATM and conduct online transactions. The Airtel Money Card  mirrors the customer’spersonal Airtel Money account. This means whatever balance the customer has in his personal Airtel money account, is equivalent to how much he has on the Airtel Money card.  In 2015, Airtel announced another partnership with I&M bank that allows Airtel Money users who are also I&M Bank account holders’ to link their money wallets to their bank accounts. This means that they can “pull” money from their bank accounts into their Airtel Money wallets or “push” money from their Airtel Money wallets to their I&M Bank accounts automatically. The telco also launched a recent partnership with National Bank that allows users to link their Bank account with the Airtel Money service.

Airtel has now announced a new partnership with United Bank of Africa (UBA) , offering customers a virtual savings account called Akiba Mkononi basically offering banking services to Airtel Money users.  Akiba Mkononi to save as low as Ksh.5 to as much as Ksh.140,000 daily on UBA bank from their Airtel Money accounts. Customers will dial *368# from their Airtel numbers to access the service. The service is expected to take on M-Shwari offered by Safaricom in partnership with CBA. M-shwari allows users to save as well as get loans through the service.

UBA customers who are also Airtel Money users will also access their bank accounts via Airtel Money. The partnership will also offer users a debit Visa Card called Airtel Money PESA Card, that allows Airtel money users to withdraw money from their Airtel Money accounts from any Visa and Kenswitch ATMs as well as shop and pay for goods and services using Airtel Money.