Three Tanzanian telcos have distributed a total of Tsh153.58 billion (about Sh7.67 billion) to their mobile money users in the past three years, as a requirement by the country’s central bank.
In February 2014, the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) issued a circular ordering telecommunication firms to start distributing money — in accrued interest from money held in their mobile money trust accounts in various commercial banks — to their customers, agents, super agents, banks, businesses and merchants.
Telecommunication firms keep all their earnings from mobile money transactions in the trust accounts, in line with the country’s electronic money regulations.
There are six telecommunication operators in Tanzania operating mobile money platforms.
Subscribers of the mobile money platforms, Halotel’s HaloPesa, Airtel’s Airtel Money, Tigo’s Tigo Pesa, Vodacom’s M-Pesa, Zantel’s Ezy Pesa and TTCL Pesa for the State-owned Tanzania Telecommunications Company Limited (TTCL), have transacted a total of Tsh5 trillion (about Sh250 billion) in value of mobile payments by June this year, BoT figures show.
This is a massive leap from Tsh25.2 billion (about Sh1.26 billion) annual transactions value recorded in 2008.
As of June 2017, the country of about 50 million people had a total of 19 million mobile money subscribers.
Of the telecommunication operators, however, it is only Vodacom, Tigo and Airtel that have managed to share part of their mobile money revenues to their clients in the past three years.
On Wednesday, the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange-listed Vodacom Tanzania distributed Tsh6 billion (about Ksh276 million) – stored in its M-Pesa Trust accounts – to its M-Pesa users.
The money, according to the company’s M-Commerce Director Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, was part of earnings from M-Pesa Trust accounts covering the period between April 1 and June 30 2017.
“With the current distribution, Vodacom will have distributed a staggering Tsh86 billion since it first started sharing interest earned from M-Pesa trust accounts held with various commercial banks in the country,” he said.
Available data also show that until the first quarter of the current year, Tigo had cumulatively distributed a total of Tsh63.58 billion in profit share since the scheme started while Airtel has only issued a total of Sh10 billion.
In the endeavour to regulate mobile money transactions and secure customers’ interests, Tanzania plans to issue separate licences to telecommunication firms running money transfer services.
In 2010, Tanzania also enacted a law requiring telecommunication firms to offload 25 per cent of their shares to the public via the stock exchange.
So far, Vodacom Tanzania has successfully undergone the process and several others are on various stages of meeting the legal requirement as the country seeks to bring transparency in operations of the sector.