Interviev – Vincent Wakada – Chairman Mobile Money Association of Kenya

The Kenyan regulators refusal to renew licenses to high profile betting firms has caused shockwaves across Africa since the news broke earlier this summer. With Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) caught in the middle given their crucial role in payment processing for online operators, many of whom have been hit hardest by the regulatory crack down, it is vital that the telecom industry becomes part of the conversation.

With this in mind, ICE Africa is delighted to announce that Vincent Wakada, Chairman of the Mobile Money Association of Kenya will be joining Max Wilkie, payment services director at Sportpesa along with Dolan Beuthin, CEO, BestBet360 at the event to discuss how to optimize payment processing in a market dominated by online solutions.

Ahead of ICE Africa, I spoke with Vincent to get his take on the ever changing gaming landscape in Kenya, the role of telecoms in the industry, and why it is so important that their voice is part of the conversation:


Why is ICE Africa important for the local gaming industry and why are you supporting this year’s event?

I’m taking part in ICE Africa to share views from a Mobile Network Operator (MNO) perspective whilst also learn from other players within the chain. As an MNO, we maintain a relationship with betting companies, end users and the government and thus it is important for MNOs to be a part of the growing conversation on responsible growth of the sector. I hope to be able to share and recieve useful insights with/from the other key stakeholders in the industry.

Broadly speaking, what percentage of telecoms mobile money revenue is generated through gaming and gambling and how damaging are the regulation changes to current business operations?

Gaming and betting has been on an upward trend in regards to uptake and revenue contribution for MNOs however direct revenue contribution is still within a single digit contribution. A higher significance can be pegged to the fact that the use of mobile money services for gaming has enhanced customer stickiness to mobile money platforms which has had a positive impact on overall revenue through other indirect channels.

Do you expect to see things getting tougher for operators with other governments and regulators cracking down in neighbouring jurisdictions?

There has been a trend across East African regulatory bodies to effect policies borrowed from neighbouring jurisdictions so it’s a distinct possibility. I believe that the best approach is to learn from the spirit of each regulation and to align on how best to self-regulate.

How can telecoms help to promote responsible gambling and should they be working more closely with the operators and regulators to be part of the conversation?

This is an important issue for MNO and one of the key mandates that we have is to ensure access to our platforms are only available to citizens of adult age. In order to do this, we undertake proper due diligence and ensure sufficient KYC. We also ascertain that our partners including betting operators are valid entities that have all the requisite regulatory approvals to operate in their respective business.

Lastly, with mobile and digital banking services becoming targets for financial crime, what are the main challenges for mobile money networks and how can these be mitigated?

With digital platforms growing across Africa, mobile financial services are becoming a bigger target for financial crime. Fraud is a key challenge both internally and externally and this is a real focus for many MNOs. With the digital landscape always changing, we are continuously reviewing our systems and processes to ensure that we maintain controls that are able to effectively mitigate against upcoming threats.


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