Customers of the Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA)’s M-Shwari experienced more than 48 hours of service outage during the Christmas celebrations as they could not make any transaction on the mobile money platform in what the service providers, Safaricom and CBA, referred to as technical issues.
The issue caught most users of the service flat-footed, as neither CBA nor Safaricom had issued a prior notice to such outage. The outage which commenced on the eve of Christmas and lasted up to December 26, made Kenyans who had saved their monies in Mshwari for Christmas seek other alternatives including borrowing from friends.
“I had to lie to my wife that I had forgotten my ATM in Nairobi and borrow money from a friend,” said one of their customers who spoke to Business Today on condition of anonymity.
The Group Managing Director for CBA Mr Isaac Awuondo has since apologised to customers for the outage. “We deeply regret the inconvenience to our customers during this festive season, and sincerely apologise for the disruption of service,” said Mr Awuondo, “We wish to advise that all our M-shwari services have now been fully restored.”
The customers who suffered most are the ones with a locked savings accounts. This is a savings account that allows M-Shwari customers to save for a defined purpose and for a specified amount of time. The funds saved on the M-Shwari Lock Savings account will be kept in the account until the maturity date; this maturity date is determined by the customer upon opening the account and ranges between one and six months. Most of such customers had their maturity dates between December 20 and 24, in which theyhad planned to withdraw their savings for Christmas celebrations.
Below are some reactions from Kenyans On Twitter(KOT) following the outage:-
Irene Njeri (@njerikamenju): “Shame on you! All my money is on Mshwari which apparently is undergoing maintenance since yesterday. Yet you didn’t warn us about it. Why did you have to pick this period knowing very well that people need money?
“Caution to all safaricon customers, NEVER EVER save your money on Mshwari for emergency purposes. Utashangaa vile tumeshangaa for the past 24 hours. And all they have done is lie and lie and lie
@SafaricomLtd,” she added.
Samuel Waweru (@samuelsweru): “
@Safaricom_Care when is the ‘scheduled’ mshwari maintainance ending?…and why was notifications not sent?”
Timothy Murithi (@murithitim): “
@SafaricomLtd am trying to withdraw money from mshwari and am receiving this message ‘Failed to authenticate the transaction by limit rule Minimum Withdrawal Account Balance.’ what’s wrong?”
Trs Jnr (@kipkemta): “I took my family to a treat ordered food and drinks only for the mshwari to totally fail to work. I had to make done calls kuchanga pesa.”
Eric Omondi (@Ericomo61747408): “Am one of those people suffering right now,
@safaricom should compensate us for the damage caused since some of our clients, families n friends have taken us as liars.”
Safaricom Limited (@safaricomltd): “Hey Eric. We implore your patience as we work tirelessly to resume normal service. The inconvenience is regretted.^CA.”
Similar complaints were raised by customers of Equity Bank’s Equitel and Co-operative Bank’s automated services casting a shadow over the reliablity of such systems in the country’s banking system.