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Airtel Money blocked for better part of weekend

By Fredrick Obura | August 16th 2019
Airtel Shop (PHOTO: Courtesy)

Airtel customers will not be able to use the mobile money platform for the better part of the weekend.

The company said all customers on its Airtel money platform will be affected beginning Saturday from 8 am to Sunday at 2 pm to allow maintenance of the system.

“In line with the changing market needs, we are changing our Airtel Money system to a more versatile platform from Saturday morning through to Sunday afternoon. During the change period, all Airtel Money services will be unavailable,” reads a statement from the company.

The company said the new system will enable it to provide more mobile money services with more security features.

Airtel Africa operates across 14 countries in Africa, with its Airtel Money service available to 14.2 million of its subscribers, 26 per cent of whom are in Kenya.

In June this year, media reports indicated that the company through its Airtel Money platform lost  Sh670 million to staff fraud.

This was revealed by its parent company Airtel Africa in its listing prospectus that highlights high capitalisation costs and tightening regulatory environment, especially in the mobile money sector as the leading risks to growth and profitability.

"In 2018, incidents of cash control frauds were identified in the group’s Airtel Money operations in Kenya and Niger, which involved circumvention of the group’s controls by Airtel Money employees and resulted in losses of $6.7 million (Sh670 million) and $670,000 (Sh67 million) respectively,” said the company.

“The group has received $860,000 (Sh86 million) as an insurance claim against the fraud in Kenya.”

The company said it had enhanced security, including segregating roles, daily reconciliations and enforced technical restrictions on the transfer of funds to non-Airtel accounts. It, however, noted that the risk of fraudulent activities by individuals employed by or working in partnership with the group “cannot be eliminated completely.”

The latest data from the Communications Authority of Kenya shows that as of December 2018, Kenya had 31.6 million active users of mobile money transfer services.

Safaricom’s M-Pesa was the market leader with 25.57 million users, followed by Airtel with 3.77 million users.

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