Finally Safaricom – M-PESA to Airtime reversal takes effect

Have you ever done it? Bought Airtime instead of withdrawing the sent amount? No, I haven’t done that but I’ve been caught in a situation of the sort.

It was in the evening, I just withdrew Kshs 7,000 from my nearest M-PESA agent. I specifically mentioned to him that I didn’t want to withdraw more (he lacked float so he wanted me to withdraw more) as I wanted to use the balance to buy bundles worth Kshs 4,000. With my 7K I was out of the bureau.

A few minutes later my phone rang:


“Hi Washington (I have since dropped that name), have you bought your bundles?”


“Well, well, would you mind exchanging some of the cash you have for airtime?”

“Why would I?”

“A customer has just accidentally bought Shs 5,000 worth of airtime”

“Wow”, I sympathized. “I can only offer 2K as I have to use 5K in the next few minutes”

“Let me see if that will help her”…

The agent contacted a few other customers who had withdrawn and together with his willingness to offer 2K for airtime, he was able to help the lady customer.

From the time M-PESA was conceived until probably today, Safaricom has always refused to effect an M-PESA to Airtime reversal. The reasoning behind their refusal has been that money as Airtime and money as M-PESA do not exist in the same form or manner – book keeping wise maybe.

I am not sure whether their reasoning has been a matter of books of account or something but well, they did not have the procedural or otherwise technique to reverse an M-PESA to Airtime transaction. If you accidentally bought Airtime instead of withdrawing, your troubles could only be sorted by a kind agent as the one who saved the lady customer I just described above.

But something seems to have happened and Safaricom has bought some sense or sympathy for the many customers who find themselves in the predicament of transferring money from M-PESA to Airtime instead of withdrawing the same amount. A few minutes ago Safaricom posted this on their Facebook Page:

When you erroneously purchase airtime from M-PESA via?#?SafaricomBlog?


The link goes to this nicely written narrative:

Day Saved Online

End of semester. Exams start tomorrow. You have until 5pm to clear your school fees balance and get an exam card. Your father has promised to send you the remaining balance of Ksh 5,750 through M-PESA. It is 3PM and you are still waiting…

3.17PM, you receive the most romantic text message “ZQ128TYT Confirmed, you have received Ksh 6,000 from your father…” Joy. Lots of joy from your heart down your spine. You quickly text him; “Thanks Dad, Zimeingia”. Off you go, thoughts rushing through your head like headlights on a busy street at night. You have to withdraw the cash, pay the remaining balance and get your exam card.

You go to the M-PESA agent. Access your SIM Toolkit and straight to the M-PESA menu. No second thought. You ‘withdraw’ and wait for the text. Notification on your phone, it reads “EX20HUH confirmed, you bought Ksh 5,750 airtime on…” wait, what? No! This can’t be happening to you. Your brain freezes for a minute, your legs are numb…you are shaking. Confused.

What to do? Light bulb moment… you quickly get in touch with our Customer Support team on FB Safaricom Kenya Official Page and Twitter @Safaricom_Care. They get in touch with you. Transaction reversed. Day saved.

NOTE: Do not use the erroneously purchased airtime as that will affect the reversal.


Nicely done Safaricom, nicely done. My only problem with you, it took you so long to come up with the solution that, well, was always technically possible. Kudos though.

PS. I know why Safaricom has decided to effect this reversal, there is a guy buying Airtime for money…see M-PEPE.


Welcome! Login in to your account

Remember me Lost your password?

Lost Password