Airtel completes separation of its telecommunication and money services
Central Bank of Kenya on Tuesday announced the successful separation of the mobile money business from the telecommunications business under Airtel Networks Kenya Limited.
This means the end of the separation process which the telco announced mid-this year.
After years of combined service, all Airtel mobile money services will now be handled by Airtel Money Kenya Limited (AMKL), while the telecommunication service will remain under Airtel Networks.
The move to separate according to the firm aimed at enhancing governance over its mobile money business, strengthening its operations, and offering better services to its customers.
“CBK licensed AMKL as a Payment Service Provider (PSP) in line with the National Payment System Act, 2011 on January 21, 2022, and also granted a transition period to complete the transfer,” said CBK in its statement.
According to CBK, the separation will ring-fence its operations and focus exclusively on its mobile money business.
All eyes now turn to the contentious mooted separation of Safaricom and M-Pesa, an idea first floated in 2017. Lawmakers have been calling for the break saying the telecommunications giant had grown too big.
On the other hand, Safaricom’s management opposes the idea of a split wanting to keep the relationship, using data from both companies to increase income.
M-Pesa was first spun out from Safaricom last year as part of the Kenya Information Communications (Amendment) Bill.
However, Members of Parliament (MPs) ignored a debate on the bill that suggested splitting up Safaricom to restrain its market domination.
If effected, the separation would put Safaricom up against other leading commercial banks in the country in the fight over the significant share of the rapidly growing online transactions, which account for 96% of all transactions in the country.
The Kenya Kwanza administration had indicated plans to split Safaricom, which would clarify who has oversight.
“Effective immediately after forming the government, the administration will seek the break up of Safaricom Limited into two distinct and separate entities with a mobile telecommunications institution under the direct jurisdiction of the Communication Authority and the financial institution under the jurisdiction of the Central Bank of Kenya,” they said.