Safaricom to boost M-PESA capacity

October 25, 2011
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, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 25 – Safaricom says it plans to change is current money transfer service, M-PESA, platform to cope with increased usage and volume of transactions. 

This follows a recent spate of outages on the current system that has caused interruption of services on numerous occasions.

Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Bob Collymore said on Tuesday, that the company was carrying out feasibility studies on two platforms as it looks to switch its customers to a more resilient system.

“We are currently costing it out and we don’t know how much that will cost us at the moment. We are looking at having it here early next year,” Collymore said.

Launched in 2007 M-PESA has enjoyed a growing clientele over the years.

By the end of September this year, M-PESA had recorded over 15 million subscribers and at least 20,500 agents countrywide.

However this rapid rise in the number of customers has seen the system suffer numerous outages that have affected business transactions.

“The current system was never designed for the current numbers we have. It simply does not fit the same purpose today,” Collymore said.

Close to 300 companies have partnered with Safaricom to settle bills via M-PESA with others already in talks to join the platform.

The CEO also cited the fact that the system is not hosted in Kenya for difficulties in how the company is able to resolve technical hitches.

He said Safaricom was in talks with its parent company Vodafone to have the system moved to Kenya from Germany and England where it is currently hosted.

“It’s really frustrating for us because we don’t have any control over the system incase of a failure. I have talked to the Central Bank of Kenya Governor and he has asked why we haven’t brought the system to be operated here in Kenya, so that’s something we are working on,” he said. 

He was speaking, at a time M-PESA was experiencing a system failure that occurred when a virtual private network connecting with Germany went down. This in turn affected M-PESA services from Monday afternoon.

By 3pm Safaricom was reporting that normal services had resumed.

“We regret the inconvenience this outage has caused and wish to reassure our beloved customers that their money is safe and M-PESA remains a reliable, fast and affordable means of cash transfer,” Collymore said.

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