Yet again the M-PESA network was down for almost two days from Thursday, and more and more the inconvenience caused by such downtime is becoming unbearable. M-PESA has become among others virtual bank for many, means for sending money, paying bills, buying credits.
Take for example people who now prefer to keep their money on M-PESA when traveling, as it provides them with a secure short term storage means than their pockets. Many a time such people need to use the money once they reach their destinations. You can guess the feeling if it happens that they can’t access? their money at one point.
Another case in point is when one sent money through M-PESA to someone stranded somewhere in unfamiliar location or a way from home, then there is no response, and the sender is? in the dark and can not confirm whether the transaction has taken place.
I was in the same situation last Thursday, having sent money and i could not confirm whether the transaction took place for several hours.? Later on there was improvement on Safaricom, when trying to use the M-PESA they gave? standard response of? “MPESA is experiencing delays, and is not able to accept your request. Please wait for 10 minutes before trying again”
Trying to take parallel on how the credit card transactions and the mobile money transfer process. Credit card transaction allows for a payment to fail at the point of sale. It simple when the transactions are not completed successfully at a pre-allocated time, the transaction is deemed to have failed. Now the beauty of this is that at this point everything is rolled back to normal and no harm done.
The same can’t be said by how MPESA works, the sender of the money has no control of the process and since it should be done in real time, the authorization, and the payment has to be done pretty fast.? The fund should be made available to the recipient immediately and there is no roll back. Well that seems easy but it becomes complicated when two companies are involved, if there is any communication breakdown, then the hell breaks loose
Safaricom has been a punching bag for many, but in case of M-PESA i think the blame is going to the wrong person or organization. The blame should be put squarely on the doorstep of Vodafone, and it is high time Vodafon let go. The reason why when MPESA is down it takes long before the problem is sorted out is because the local lads have no control of what is going on on the back end.
The MPESA transactions are routed to the Vodafone Money Transfer Switch in UK,? which in turn does the authorisations. In other words the Vodafone servers handle everything to do with M-PESA. Safaricom server in Kenya just act as the transit or routing point.
Sometime back on this blog there was argument as to whether Safaricom no longer has the technical capacity to support the ever increasing number of M-PESA users .? Why is M-PSEA down? Is it overloaded? Or Is it bad server configuration on the part of Safariocm? As already mentioned the problem is not Safaricom but someone else. When M-Pesa network is down the Safaricom technical team has very little to do about it except to wait for the Vodafone to sort out the problem.? Their work is to try to communicate the problem to the guys in UK. And that is where the mess starts? from, for one the people in UK might not understand how crucial it is to many Kenyans that M-PESA works without a hitch. Secondly, the distance and time different although small (three hours) may cause the delay to some extent. The Kenyans people wake up and start working three hours earlier than UK counterparts, and it is easy to see that could be a major obstacle. Finally, how much priority does Vodafone give to M-PESA, operating in third world country? I guess not on top of the list.
MPESA has been success in Kenya and for it to continue being so Vodafone should let go, free the local guys at Safaricom to operate the backend of the system. With that it would be easy for them to spot the problem and possibly rectify it within a reasonable time.
Again here Safaricom has very little control on M-Pesa API.? I have seen and read many people talk about developing online payment using using M-Pesa. The question i asked myself several times in such occasion is do these people access the Vodafon server for real, leave a lone the Safaricom one!