Tanzania lauded for success in digital financial inclusion

TANZANIA has been lauded for facilitating agreement among telecoms to allow their customers transfer money across multiple networks. The Director of Financial Inclusion at the MasterCard Foundation, Ms Ann Miles said interoperability agreement among mobile network operators has placed the country among few global champions in financial inclusion.

“Tanzania is taking the right direction, moving towards positive steps to promote financial inclusion,” she told reporters at the sidelines of the Mastercard Foundation symposium on financial inclusion in Cape Town, South Africa last week. Mobile operators in Tanzania reached interoperability agreement last year to allow customers belonging to one mobile money scheme to transfer money to a customer with an account at a different mobile money scheme.

Following the agreement facilitated by World Bank’s International Finance Corporation and the Financial Sector Deepening Trust (FSDT) and the Bank of Tanzania, bilateral pricing agreements were signed between Tigo, Airtel and Zantel in accordance with the wallet to wallet interoperable rules.

All have implemented and launched the services with Tigo and Airtel wallet to wallet service starting in September 2014 and Tigo and Zantel service in December 2014. Vodacom, the biggest industrial player concluded its bilateral negotiations with Tigo in February 2015 to allow their customers to send and receive money directly into each other’s wallets.

The four major mobile operators work together with growing number of commercial banks to provide internet and mobile banking services where customers can make money transaction including payments for a number of services on their bank accounts using their mobile telephones. The East Africa’s second largest economy has now joined Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to offer the interoperability services which is seen as a milestone in the promotion of financial services and financial inclusion.

“Your country has taken the right steps. Clearly there are challenges but I think the steps taken by some MNOs (mobile network operators) in interoperability are in the right direction towards promoting financial inclusion,” she said.

FSDT Executive Director, Sosthenes Kewe who was attending the sympsium told the Business Standard that Tanzania was a global leader in interoperability among the mobile network operators which is vital step to expedite expansion of financial services and promote financial inclusion. “Tanzania leads the world in interoperability.

Three MNOs, Airtel, Tigo and Zantel are interoperable among themselves and Vodacom has also signed agreement to that effect. However they are waiting for internal processes to be ready before customers are allowed to use money transfer service across different MNOs,” he said.

Mr Kewe said after achieving person-to-person (P2P) interoperability, they were now working to allow other cases including agent or Cash-in/Cash-out (CICO) interoperability and other forms that would allow money transfer between government or its agencies and business entities or individuals.

“We are working on other use cases like government to person or business to government and other cases,” he said. Mastercard Foundation, a global vehicle for promotion of financial inclusion, jointly with Boulder Institute of Microfinance organised a two-day symposium on financial inclusion in Cape Town, South Africa last week which attracted more than 300 financial service industry practitioners working to serve the needs of poor people in developing countries.


During the two-day event, the practitioner explored trends in the sector and ways to move more quickly and with more impact to bring secure, affordable and convenient financial services to the world’s two billion people.