Safaricom delays M-Pesa upgrade

Kenyan operator Safaricom today announced that the enhancement of its M-Pesa mobile payment platform has been pushed back to 2015.

The implementation of new technology, designed to make the service faster and more reliable, was originally due to launch next summer.

M-Pesa, launched by Safaricom in 2007, has been a phenomenon in the mobile money segment, allowing users to transfer and deposit cash via their phones or borrow small loans.

The service now accounts for over half of all global money transfers every day and its popularity – 250 transactions per second – has put a huge strain on the platform, causing occasional shutdowns.

Safaricom’s partner for the project, Huawei, has been working on a second-generation platform to increase M-Pesa’s capacity to 600 transactions per second, as well a more efficient rerouting system when the system goes down.

Bob Collymore, CEO at Safaricom, told Reuters yesterday that the upgrade would now take an additional nine months to complete, but does not expect it to affect the business.

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