Vodacom joins Tanzania cross-net money transfer partnership

18 February 2016 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

Four of Tanzania’s mobile networks have linked up so that their customers can send and receive money – just as customers have been able to send and receive text messages for many years.

Three operators, Millicom’s Tigo, Airtel and Etisalat’s Zantel, have had a partnership since 2014, but now Vodacom, controlled by the Vodafone group, has joined the arrangement.

Ian Ferrao, Vodacom Tanzania’s managing director, said: “This is a great evolution of the mobile money service in Tanzania and a first of its kind in the world. Vodacom is committed to creating a cashless society and through this partnership our customers can enjoy more flexible payment options and fully participate in the formal financial ecosystem.”

The partnership excludes a fifth operator, Smart Mobile, as well as a yet-to-start sixth, Viettel Tanzania, but the expanded deal covers what are believed to be the four largest in Tanzania.

Just as cross-network text messaging boosted the use of SMS when it was introduced, cross-network funds transfer has increased the use of m-money services. Mobile money transactions have increase 250% since Tigo, Airtel and Zantel announced interoperability in 2014.

Vodacom announced in 2015 that it would join the scheme, but has only just implemented it.

Ferrao added: “Such innovation truly speaks to financial inclusion as it helps draw more cash into the formal financial system and helps improve our customers’ lives by simplifying transactions and adding speed and convenience to their daily routine.”

Tigo Tanzania and Millicom’s head of mobile financial services, Ruan Swanepoel, welcomed the deal. “We believe interoperability is crucial to the success of mobile money and the wider goal of increasing financial inclusion,” he said. “It is also a fundamental building block towards constructing a digital economy, enabling merchants and other start-ups to participate in the financial services ecosystem.”

Airtel managing director Sunil Colaso said: “Our partnership is aimed at unleashing and fostering innovation, leveraging in the evolution of technology to bring fast and convenient financial services closer to Tanzanians of all socio-economic classes.”