Move means faster transactions on the telco's network with about 900 transactions per second

Mobile money transfer platform M-Pesa yesterday got back into operations after a short weekend shutdown to allow for a systems upgrade.

The upgrade was completed successfully with some customers reporting faster transaction times in sending and receiving money and loading up on mobile money from bank accounts.

Safaricom Chief Executive Bob Collymore yesterday took to the social media to announce M-Pesa’s comeback, praising the process and the team that undertook it. “And we are live again on M-Pesa. One of the biggest IT projects carried out in Africa. Thanks to our customers for your patience... some of the team who successfully brought M-Pesa home today. We’re good to go. Thanks folks,” tweeted Mr Collymore.

Earlier, there were fears the disruption would affect services such as purchases at petrol stations, supermarkets, bars and restaurants where millions of customers are now accustomed to paying through the Lipa na M-Pesa facility, but the shutdown was barely felt, due to the timing.

It started from 11p.m. on Saturday night and lasted through the wee hours of Sunday morning.

 It had earlier been reported that the popular service would be down for around 12 hours, but it was back in operation yesterday morning, allowing customers to pay for electricity, water, and other utility bills normally.

Safaricom’s new M-Pesa platform is expected to go live by the end of this month, raising the stakes in the battle to dominate Kenya’s lucrative mobile money industry.

Better functionality

The new system will allow Safaricom grow its financial product offering through new upgrades and better functionality.

“Previously, we used to have speeds of up to 450 transactions per second but with the new platform, we will be able to do 900 transactions per second,” said Safaricom’s General Manager for Financial Services, Betty Mwangi, while announcing the outage.

The platform will also offer a wide range of services, including business-to-business transactions, which will benefit banks and utility companies such as  Kenya Power and Lighting Company. Safaricom said the new system was designed by Vodafone and built by Huawei.

The telco also said it would use the new system to increase the number of mobile phone-based financial transactions. Currently, nine out of every 10 financial transactions are made in cash, meaning that only a tenth is carried out by phone or card.

In the financial year that ended March 2014, M-Pesa earned Safaricom Sh26.56 billion — nearly a fifth of total revenue.

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