Yet again the Mpesa was down for the most part of Tuesday. Coincidentally safaricom had a media Workshop about their yet to launched online customer care. And the media personalities had a chance to query Mr. Bobcollymore on the real reasons behind the frequent Mpesa downtime.
Mr. Bob actually acknowledged that he had no idea where the problem was although a day earlier he was talking about the fiber cuts. But he made one big announcement which we have been calling for here for sometime. Bringing the mpesa server here in Kenya. They are working hard to transfer the server from Europe (Somewhere in UK or Germany) to Kenya. And the fact that Michael Joseph is now in charge of Mpesa at Vodafone should help. But the process will take time as moving 15million customers is not an easy task.
The frequent Mpesa downtime is due to a number of reasons, some of which can be avoided if the server is hosted locally. Start with Fiber cuts, if Mpesa is hosted locally this will no longer be a cause for the outage. Those crazy people cutting the fiber cables at the sea ( may they be jailed for life) can continue with their stupidity and we will continue with the excellent Mpesa. On top of that, the speed of transaction will increase as that will reduce the length of the information flow. At the moment when you make any transaction, the message is send to Safaricom in Kenya, then that is transferred to Vodafone server in UK, Germany or wherever it is, then back to Safaricom, before you get the reply. That process can be cut back to you, Safaricom and then back to you. The distance would range from a few meters to some kilometers as compared to the other world where Europe is.
Another advantage would be that Mpesa could handle more transaction much more than it does now. It is said that Mpesa now process 200 transactions per second and does more transactions in Kenya than Western Union Worldwide. Clearly if the server is hosted in Kenya , it will be capable of handling bigger volumes than it does now. Currently Mpesa has 15 million subscribers and the number is expected to go up every minute.
Another underlying problem with Mpesa being hosted in Europe is the lax attitude people at the Vodafone have towards Business in developing world ..Kenya. To them Mpesa is about sending money to relatives in the rural areas. Something that in their mind can wait a few hours, so they are not hurry to solve the problem when Mpesa is down. They always think of Mpesa in the light of Western Union, which is totally wrong. It is true that when the Mpesa started it was about sending money to relatives, and true to the fact, that made it an instant success, but we moved away from that. Mpesa is now much much much more than that.
We now have Mpesa Prepay Safari Card, yeah Vodofone that has nothing to do with sending money home. That is for online transaction and when Mpesa is down those businesses relying on that really suffer.
We have Pay Bills as a function.. If you pay your water bills or electricity bills using the Mpesa, and it goes down before the transaction is completed or recorded by the intended recipient company, it means you will be in the dark or without water until the system is restored. With the lax attitude at the Vodafone ,woe unto you.
There numerous functions of Mpesa in Kenya that the so called owners of the Mpesa do not understand. Look at the list below from the humble beginning of sending money :
- Mpesa use for the online transaction
- Mpesa used to pay bills..water, electricity
- Mpesa used as a bank..many people store their money in mpesa and if it is down, then you know they have to go hungry
- Lipa Karo na Mpesa, Mpesa is used to pay school fees…oooh you want our kids to stay away from schools!!
- M-ticketing- Mobile tickets, many companies are now suing mpesa as a payment system for their tickets, i think including Kenya Airways
- Bulk payments—yeah people pay salaries using Mpesa
- Mkesho..well documented –the banking function