Airtel
CA
CBK
Central Bank of Kenya
Communications Authority
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Kenya
Kenyans
Nairobi Securities Exchange
Safaricom
Treasury

Resolve cash transfer service outage quickly

Before Saturday’s disruptions, M-Pesa was down in July and April last year putting the company under regulatory pressure. Monday morning, another brief blackout hit the country deepening the need for the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) and the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) to reveal the cause of the outage and remedial measure to curb recurrence.M-Pesa dominance has entrenched the mobile money service in Kenyans’ daily lives and ecosystem of the economy.

The investigations into Saturday’s M-Pesa service outage must reveal the root of the trouble and measures to avoid a similar blackout that left millions of customers unable to receive or send money. Before Saturday’s disruptions, M-Pesa was down in July and April last year putting the company under regulatory pressure.Monday morning, another brief blackout hit the country deepening the need for the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) and the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) to reveal the cause of the outage and remedial measure to curb recurrence.M-Pesa dominance has entrenched the mobile money service in Kenyans’ daily lives and ecosystem of the economy.Therefore, its success and failures have catapulted it beyond Safaricom to a service of national interest. CA statistics show that about Sh1.5 trillion moved through the M-Pesa platform in the three months to June, translating to an average Sh16.3 billion per day or about Sh679.3 million every hour.During the outage that lasted several hours, Safaricom customers had problems paying for electricity bills, shopping, sending money to relatives, and even placing bets with gambling firms. M-Pesa agents were among the biggest losers in the blackout that stalled their businesses for hours. Multiple banks have hooked up their systems to M-Pesa.The Sh1.5 trillion accounted for 79 percent of overall mobile money transfer in the quarter to June. Its main rival in cash moved through phones, Airtel, had 0.06 percent, underlining the commanding lead of the M-Pesa platform—which delivered Sh62.9 billion sales to Safaricom.Safaricom must thank its investments and 24 million users of M-Pesa whose sales would make it one of the top firms at the Nairobi Securities Exchange if was listed as an independent entity.

This level of dominance is what led the Treasury to warn that the collapse of M-Pesa service would cause widespread disruption in the economy.It is imperative for Safaricom to beef up investments on its M-Pesa network to avoid outages that last hours and whose ripple effects on the economy are huge.Therefore, the ongoing probe is a critical plank in developing remedial measures.

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