Stockholm-based telecommunications and media company Millicom announced this week that the 4 million customers of its Tigo Pesa mobile money service in Tanzania will be the first in Africa to be able to exchange money with the 6 million customers of Vodacom’s M-Pesa mobile money service. A similar launch in 2014 allowed Tigo’s customers to transact similar services with Airtel’s Money and Zantel’s Ezy Pesa customers. “With Tigo Pesa, customers will now have Africa’s first universal mobile money exchange system,” said Millicom Executive Vice President for Africa Arthur Bastings. “They will be able to safely and securely transact with millions more people across the country. It’s another first for Tigo Pesa and Tanzania.” Other Tigo Pesa innovations in the past year include cross-border mobile money exchange with currency conversion included and quarterly returns on Tigo Pesa balances.
Mobile money services offered by the four main MNOs in Tanzania—Airtel, Vodacom, Tigo and Zantel—have been growing steadily for the past five years. In a country where 90 percent of the population do not have bank accounts but cell phone penetration is 75 percent, it is not surprising that roughly half the adult population is already using the mobile money services offered by mobile operators. Last year Tigo, the second-largest operator in Tanzania, was able to broker interoperability deals with the next two smaller operators, Airtel and Zantel, giving their subscribers a wider range for their mobile money transactions. This recent deal with Vodacom, Tanzania’s largest MNO, was brokered after more than a year of negotiations and is a huge win for subscribers.