Airtel Money has received approval to increase mobile money limits to KES 500,000 ($3,400). Customers will also transact up to KES 500,000 daily, up from KES 300,000 ($2085). 

Yesterday, Safaricom announced it had made some adjustments to its M-PESA wallet, reporting a limit increase from KES 300,000 ($2,085) to KES 500,000 (a little over $3,400). The company further shared that the daily transaction threshold had also been raised to KES 500,000 from its previous mark of KES 300,000.

Today, Airtel Money has joined this conversation, matching the higher limits after receiving approval from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK). This means that Airtel Kenya’s mobile money users can now hold up to half a million Kenyan shillings within their wallets and conduct transactions of the same amount daily.

However, just like M-PESA, the limit per transaction will remain limited at KES 150,000 ($1,043).

Anne Kinuthia-Otieno, Airtel Money’s managing director, said the company was “elated about the CBK’s decision as this change will significantly empower our customers and partners by providing them with the flexibility to conduct larger transactions and manage their finances more effectively.”

Expanding the daily transaction cap will likely bring advantages to a diverse customer base, including governmental entities and other stakeholders. 

In terms of market share, Airtel Money is no match to market leader M-PESA. As of March 2023, M-PESA commanded a market share of 96.5% in the mobile money space. Airtel Money came in second position with a modest 3.4%, trailed by Telkom Kenya’s T-Kash with just 0.1%.

The central bank of Kenya and other agencies have been trying to level the playing field in the mobile money sector. Yet, these efforts have not been favourable to smaller companies. M-PESA stands as a dominant force in Kenya’s payment services landscape. While Safaricom has denied its dominance, M-PESA still captures most payment service avenues. These avenues have been made interoperable in recent times.

However, the biggest boost could stem from agency interoperability. This development could empower customers to use Airtel Money and T-Kash more by tapping into M-PESA’s extensive agency network. This has been partially accomplished; M-PESA’s tills and pay bill numbers have achieved interoperability with Airtel Money and T-Kash, yet this has not yielded significant shifts in creating a level playing field for other contenders.

Conversations have also surfaced about the potential opening of M-PESA’s agency network to its competitors, potentially expediting other participants’ growth. However, this development has not been formally announced, possibly due to delays. Considering the substantial resources invested in its development, Safaricom might be hesitant to share its network, especially with entities that did not contribute to its growth.

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