Customers were unable to transfer funds between their M-Pesa and bank accounts on Thursday, October 7 as the service faced a disruption affecting customers of Kenyan banks.
Stranded customers flooded customer care channels for banks and Safaricom seeking answers after encountering various challenges. Some individuals who transferred cash from their bank accounts to M-Pesa, for instance, reported the money being deducted from their bank account balances but not being reflected on their M-Pesa balances.
Statements issued by banks on the disruption offered some insight into the incident. They attributed the disruption to a technical upgrade of the service being undertaken by Safaricom.
“Dear customer, due to an issue at Safaricom side following an upgrade, M-Pesa float and M-Pesa to Bank services are currently unavailable…We shall advise once the issue is resolved,” a message sent to customers of Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) read in part.
Similar messages were sent to customers of other banks in Kenya including Equity Bank, Standard Chartered and NCBA.
Notably, among key users of M-Pesa to Bank services are businesses which accept payments sent via the mobile money service.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) data indicates that over fifty per cent of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is transacted over M-Pesa. The service has over 40 million customers spread over 10 countries and is Africa’s largest fintech.
It’s dominance in Kenya has been a cause for concern in quarters including Parliament in the past. Analysts have argued that the potential costs of future M-Pesa outages and disruptions to the economy could be deeply detrimental, highlighting the need to avert such situations.
In addition, expansion around M-Pesa into areas including agriculture, health and education is being counted on as a new growth engine for Safaricom.