Safaricom Updates M-Pesa

Safaricom, a leading mobile network operator in Kenya, is embarking on a major update to its M-Pesa mobile money system, according to a Business Daily Africa report.

M-Pesa, a mobile-phone based money transfer and micro financing service for Safaricom is one of the most developed mobile payment systems in the world.,To increase the speed and processing capabilities of the service, Safaricom decided to upgrade it to a new platform.

Safricom will be working with Chinese telco giant Huawei on the platform migration with the aim to increase its speed and capacity.

The M-Pesa upgrade will be designed to complete post-paid electricity, insurance premiums and bank payments in real-time. It is likely that the upgraded service will alleviate customer complications, such as electricity disconnections, that are common under the current system.

Speaking with Kenya Business Daily, Safaricom’s CEO, Michael Joseph, said, “Safaricom will migrate to this new platform in about 18 months’ time and planning has already begun for the extremely complicated process.”

Under the current M-Pesa platform, payments made to Kenya Power for electricity distribution take 48 hours to process while payments to the National Hospital Insurance fund take upto 76 hours.

At present, there are 17 million Kenyans who use M-Pesa’s services, and the current platform manages between 200-300 transactions every second. Safaricom expects the transaction rate to increase by a factor of 10 after implementing the new platform.

Joseph said the new platform would prove to be more efficient, leading to a decrease in operational costs. Whether or not these savings would trickle down to the consumer remains unclear. According to Kenya Business Daily, Vodafone and Safaricom will work together to make a decision upon reviewing operating costs.

The new and improved M-Pesa will also come with additional features, such as vendor integration. Vendors mentioned include those in banking, micro-insurance and primarily supermarkets.

If grocery stores were to include M-Pesa platforms, it would allow consumers to instantly pay for goods using the mobile money technology. If such an integration occurs, M-Pesa would then adequately compete with credit cards, the report speculates.

M-Pesa services may also be used for government payments such as pensions, job salaries, and beneficiaries in isolated locations.

Furthermore, the new upgrade has led Safaricom’s servers to migrate from Kenya to Germany. This relocation will ideally enhance mobile money transfer’s reliability and release overheads.

To read the full story at Kenya Business Daily click here


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