Airtel, Tigo to launch a Mobile Money Interoperability Pilot in Rwanda

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Tigo Cash ad. Credit: Tigo

Airtel Rwanda and Tigo Rwanda, a subsidiary of Millicom, have announced a partnership to pilot interoperability between their two mobile money transfer service platforms.

This collaboration will allow Airtel Money and Tigo Cash subscribers to send and receive money directly into their mobile wallets without use of vouchers.

Tano Oware, Acting Chief Executive Officer for Airtel Rwanda said; As facilitators at the forefront for mobile-commerce in Rwanda, Airtel is pleased to join hands with Tigo to provide our customers with an interoperability option that would allow them access to transact easily using our mobile money transfer services. This further brings to light our determination to ensure that we achieve Rwanda’s agenda of cashless economy.”

Interoperability in Rwanda’s mobile money sector is aimed at fostering financial inclusion thus increasing the velocity on money in our financial ecosystem.

Adding to the development; Tongai Maramba, Chief Executive Officer, Tigo Rwanda, expressed:  “Getting access to financial services via the mobile phone can make a massive difference to people’s lives. I am delighted that we have delivered Interoperability with Airtel. With this, we underline our commitment to drive financial inclusion and join forces with The Government of Rwanda in the journey towards reduced reliance on cash. On lighter note, I am excited that I will finally be able to send money to Mr. Tano’s Airtel Money account without resorting to cash.”

Commenting on the partnership between the two telcos, Gregory Reeve, General Manager for Tigo MFS added “with this advancement, Rwanda becomes the second market in Africa to launch interoperability after Tanzania. Connecting systems together is a key driver of financial inclusion and access for the people in Rwanda and Millicom is committed to this cause.”

Airtel Money Africa Director Mr. Chidi Okpala added; “This initiative is another demonstration of Bharti Airtel’s commitment to deepen financial inclusion and facilitate cashless ecosystems across Africa. We championed interoperability in Tanzania and have now done so in Rwanda, with two more countries to go before year end.”

Mr. Okpala specially commended the National Bank of Rwanda for its unflinching support for this initiative and commitment towards ensuring the long term success of mobile money services in the country.

In the past few years, there has been great adoption of mobile money services as this has been a mode of accepting merchant payments, sending and receiving money, utility bill payments and pay TV. To put this in context, in December 2010, only 1.7 million bank accounts and mobile wallets existed out of a population of 9 million people. Today there are over 5.7 million mobile subscribers in the country.

Mobile Money has had a transformative impact on the lives of millions of people who previously had limited or no access to financial services.

Once the customer receives money into their wallet, they will be able to use other mobile financial services such as P2P, bill payment, merchant payments or cash outs while also helping the government to advance important public policy objectives on financial inclusion.

The two companies will continue to work together on international money transfer services to include more countries such as Congo.

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