M-Pesa blackout weekend, be ready

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As you may know by now Safaricom is planning  to upgrade Mpesa platform this weekend.  It is expected to start Friday at 9 p.m until Monday 6 a.m. That is 57hours of MPesa blackout plus many more should they encounter problems during the upgrade.  Since everyone is  hoping that the new platform will far much better than current one, people should be ready to survive the weekend. For those who are wondering what is the big fuss about the Mpesa being down..here is why: M-Pesa is expected to Transfer 20% of Kenyan’s GDP in the year of our Lord 2010.

Wayan Vota captured what it means to Kenya when he wrote the following in Ictworks website:

If one company moves 20% of country’s GDP, and that company is not even a bank, just want does that tell you about the rise of mobile phone operators in Africa? Here are three thoughts that leap out at me:

  1. For the first time, telecommunications companies are now “too big to fail” – they are such a force in a country’s economy, they are now of strategic interest to national governments.
  2. With such success, mPayment innovation will be severely curtailed in other countries. Banks will demand to lead mobile payment processes – they’ll not loose that much business again
  3. Payments are now a business requirement, too many potential customers use it for a company to ignore  it as payment option

The following are the some of the improvement which i think many would like to see on the new M-Pesa system

1 . M-Pesa moved from just means of money transfer to all rounded system, core in this is the payment option for goods and services. That in mind it is important that Safaricom and the Government of Kenya think of it as real means of payment. The upper limit of the money you can transfer or pay to another phone should be in tedem with prices of goods available in Kenya. What are some of the most costly things in Kenya? Definitely they are many and that is the point M-Pesa is now a mode of payment and if i want to buy a car costing Ksh.700.000 i should be able to do so using M-Pesa.

2.  Proper M-Pesa API.? Many developers and the fans of ecommerce like Maduqa would like to say this option working. Yes we are using the M-pesa for payment as it now but the real advancement will come when we move from what i would call “manual” Mpesa payment to real online transaction system. With Airtel exerting pressure on Safaricom, i think this is one option that will enable Safaricom to stay ahead of the pack.

3.  Correct the loophole of sending money to the wrong numbers. The best way would be the automated way to search for the numbers on the phone books from the Mpesa apps on the phone without having to enter it. Or at least have that option. Many people send money to wrong numbers daily…major problem i would say.  According to Safaricom website at the moment

If you send money to the wrong number:

  • Call Line 234 immediately and provide them with the number that has erroneously received the cash.
  • Funds sent to a wrong number will be reversed only if still available in the wrong recipients account.

Can be avoided after the upgrade

Ok, that aside what could possibly happen this weekend with Safaricom M-pesa upgrade?

1 Bharti Aritel gaining all the Mpesa customer…? No chance , probably not even one, Mpesa well rooted in the system of many Kenyans. It is the reason why Safaricom maintains its market share despite the major onslaught from other operators

2. People being  stranded in unfamiliar location and the friends and families members can’t help ..no Mpesa. Quite possible, the fact that most people are using Safaricom lines, even if you bring in Airtel to the picture that wouldn’t help this weekend. Let them be warned no traveling without money..cash

3.  Kenyan Economy to come to a standstill. 20% percent of the economy is expected to be moved by MPesa this year, now that is  not a small matter…. Mmmh it is a weekend and that could help.

What is your opinion on the topic?
Kennedy Kachwanya
Lead Blogger at Kachwanya.com
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Kennedy Kachwanya is a technology blogger interested in mobile phones both smart and dumb, mobile apps, mobile money, social media, startups ecosystem and digital Savannah. New media must not forget the strength of old tech.
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