MTN Rwanda subscribers are unlikely to benefit from the mobile money interoperability platform that is soon to be launched in the country by Airtel Rwanda and Tigo Rwanda, according to a news report. It said that Airtel and Tigo will soon launch a six-month pilot project for mobile money interoperability, but MTN is still upgrading its system. This also means that mobile money subscribers in Rwanda will continue paying high prices for off-net services. Statistics from the Rwanda Utility Regulatory Authority for the first quarter show that MTN Rwanda continued to dominate the local mobile money market, with a 49 percent share. Tigo Rwanda had 35 percent and Airtel had 16 percent.
Interoperability is the next phase of the mobile money revolution, in which customers will no longer be dependent on any one operator’s network but instead will be able to transfer money freely back and forth with any users in the country or even beyond. Indeed, interoperability is necessary for mobile money to mature as an economic force. But in order for an interoperability platform to be meaningful, all the operators in the market have to be on it. For a major operator to be unable to participate can be a deal-breaker, as in Rwanda, where MTN, with almost half the country as subscribers, is not technologically ready.