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Airtel Money is Now On its Own

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Luis Monzon
Luis Monzon
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Telecoms group Airtel Kenya has announced that it will be splitting its mobile money business – Airtel Money – from its main company.

Instead, Airtel Money will now be operating under the name ‘Airtel Money Kenya Limited’.

“Following this business separation, Airtel Money Kenya Limited will take over and continue the provision of the Airtel Money Services, in collaboration with the licensed telecommunications network of Airtel Networks Kenya Limited,” reads the announcement from Airtel.

Airtel says that customers that continue to use Airtel Money services agree that their personal information and accounts will still be shared between Airtel Money Kenya Limited and Airtel Networks Kenya Limited.

“The continued use of the Airtel Money Service shall be deemed as proof of the customer’s acceptance of the transfer of their Airtel Money Account and related Customer Data and or sharing of the Customer Data between Airtel Money Kenya Limited and Airtel Networks Kenya Limited,” the announcement states.

According to Kenyan publication TechWeez, Airtel Money is the country’s second-most popular mobile money platform after Safaricom’s payments powerhouse M-PESA, which enjoys a 99% market share.

Airtel’s mobile money division hasn’t been as impactful as the telecom it has split from in contrast. In June of this year, Airtel Kenya sold 25.77% of its Airtel Money business in shares in order to raise more capital for the company’s continued operations.

Airtel Kenya raised $550-million after the transaction, selling shares to four companies, namely Rise Fund (investing $200-million), followed by Qatar Holding LCC ($200-million), then Mastercard ($100-million) and finally Chimera Investment LLC ($50-million).

The group has conducted similar stake shedding in the past, with Airtel Africa ceding ownership of its mobile money stake in other African markets like Tanzania, Rwanda, and Zambia.

Airtel’s mobile money division has long languished in M-PESA’s shadow, seemingly unable to compete against Safaricom’s cash cow domestically. M-PESA currently generates more than half of Safaricom’s yearly revenues.

By Luis Monzon
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