After two years of intercontinental conference calls, eight test runs and countless hours put in by 320 consultants, Safaricom has successfully migrated its mobile money platform to its data center in Kenya and is expecting to provide better services.
The old platform, known as G1 within Safaricom ranks, was hosted at Rackspace in Germany and was plagued with issues including fiber optic outages and problems with transit providers, causing users to experience delays in the service. The new platform is known as G2.
"We are alerted immediately on any issues and are able to resolve issues instantly instead of having to report back to Germany for resolution, which previously could take up to 30 minutes," said Ken Okwero, a department head for products and services at Safaricom.
Problems with G1 included delays in the process of cancelling a transmission of funds when a user has sent money to the wrong person. Such transfer reversals could take an hour.
"We can effect customers' reversals more efficiently," Okwero added. The new platform also should offer enhanced system stability due to reduced points of failure, and allow users to enjoy a wider range of products and services on the company's MPesa Platform, he said.
For developers, the inability to access the MPesa API has been a major pain point. However, Safaricom has promised to open up its APIs, now that it has more system autonomy and can engage more developers.
"We are currently examining business-case scenarios before we open up the system to developers; this will enable them to access APIs so that they can co-create solutions that run on the MPesa platform and deepen the growing ecosystem around the product — this should be live in the next two months," Okwero said.
Safaricom has said that it worked with IBM to transfer data from G1 to G2 and that Huawei provided technical expertise, but otherwise was hazy about details of the technology it has invested in.
Separately, Vodafone Group, which owns a 40 percent stake in Safaricom, has signed an interconnect agreement with MTN Group that enables mobile money transfer among MPesa customers in Kenya, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Uganda, Rwanda and Zambia.
MTN said that under the terms of its memorandum of understanding with Vodafone, the two companies will share best practices and work together to define the rules and standards of mobile-based remittances in Africa.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.