Choosing a technical model for A2A interoperability: Lessons from Tanzania and Pakistan

Account-to-account (A2A) interoperability between mobile money services is now real, with at least five markets live at the end of 2015 and more on the way. The GSMA worked closely with mobile money service providers from two different markets, one in East Africa and one in South Asia, to understand their implementation experiences. In turn, we are sharing these insights in a new case study to help other providers introduce interoperability in their own markets.

It is not just the geographical difference between Tanzania and Pakistan that made our analysis interesting. Both countries have different mobile money regulations, different commercial models and consequently, entirely different service models. However there was commonality – the vast majority of service providers in both markets had an appetite to bring A2A interoperability to their customers.

This case study captures how the commercial, regulatory and market contexts influenced the choice of interoperability in each market. It also focuses on the experiences and challenges faced during implementation and post-launch in both countries. Interestingly, although service providers in both markets used the same assessment criteria to select a technical model for interoperability, service providers in Tanzania opted for a bilateral arrangement, while in Pakistan, providers opted to integrate with a local switch.

Despite careful evaluation of these choices, providers in both markets faced challenges while implementing their chosen models. This case study captures those challenges and identifies the processes which were implemented to mitigate them. We believe these key learnings will help service providers in other markets during their respective decision-making and implementation processes.

Interoperability is a growing priority for mobile money providers, and there is no right or wrong implementation process. Even in Pakistan and Tanzania, where interoperability is live and providers are experiencing a growth in the number of cross-net transactions, providers may decide to modify their arrangements in the future.

A key takeaway from this study is that all parties involved in launching interoperability should collaborate for a successful and sustainable approach. We believe that mobile money providers are best positioned to decide when and how interoperability should be launched in a market—this avoids introducing new risks and costs, and increases the appetite and buy-in from providers. In turn, this will result in a willingness to invest and to prioritise interoperability.

You can read the full report here.