Telkom Kenya plans to replace its mobile money platform Orange Money amidst its continued underperformance in the market.
In an interview, Telkom Kenya chief executive Aldo Mareuse said that the company would ditch the current platform because it cannot keep up with the competition.
“The current platform does not even allow the core products that M-Pesa has and obviously does not allow us to go further, which is what we want,” said Mr Mareuse.
This lack of functionality is the reason Orange Money did not participate as a placing agent in M-Akiba, Kenya’s first phone-based government bond issue which was sold via Safaricom’s M-Pesa and Airtel Money.
Mr Mareuse said that the new platform would be more cost-efficient and will be launched at the same time the company rebrands before the end of the year. Mr Mareuse argued that the telecoms market will continue to be unprofitable for smaller operators until the government can better regulate competition.
He, however, rejected proposals to split M-Pesa from Safaricom, as had been proposed in a government-commissioned report and by Gem Member of Parliament Jakoyo Midiwo.
“I think spinning (M-Pesa) off is not the answer. Interoperability in a fast way is the answer,” said Mr Mareuse.
Telkom Kenya has lost ground in mobile money and voice services. Statistics from the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) show that the company shed 19,894 mobile money agents in the quarter to December 2016.
At 800, Orange Money has the lowest number of agents among the six mobile money services included in the CA statistics. The company also has the lowest value of transactions at Sh80 million.
M-Pesa, Equitel Money and Airtel Money moved Sh892.9 billion, Sh251.6 billion and Sh6.6 billion respectively during the period.