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Safaricom to switch M-Pesa off to test major upgrade

An M-Pesa agent attends to a customer. PHOTO | FILE
An M-Pesa agent attends to a customer. PHOTO | FILE 

Safaricom plans to completely shut down its popular money transfer service for about half a day this weekend for testing as it completes “the journey to bring M-Pesa home” — a reference to moving its servers to Kenya.

This follows at least two other recent suspensions of the service for routine maintenance by the mobile services provider in recent weeks.

The telecommunications company says it has completed transferring and upgrading M-Pesa servers from Germany to Kenya and is conducting final test-runs this weekend.

New customer registrations, personal identification number (PIN) changes and account activations will be unavailable in the 48 hours leading up to the shutdown. This includes signing up for M-Shwari and M-Kesho accounts.

“The M-Pesa system upgrade is scheduled for Saturday April 18, 2015 at 11pm to Sunday April 19, 2015 at noon,” the company said in an advertisement placed in local dailies. “We have begun the long-awaited journey to bring M-Pesa home.”

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The mobile giant had earlier revealed plans to transfer all M-Pesa servers to Kenya by the beginning of April, promising users of the mobile money transfer service a more reliable system.

The process of installing the M-Pesa servers locally began 24 months ago, with Safaricom having brought in 50 engineers from across the globe, mainly from Vodafone, IBM and Huawei to design, install the new platform and re-locate the servers locally.

It is expected to minimise service outages that occur whenever the undersea fibre optic cables which relay information to Germany and back are damaged.

The installation of M-Pesa servers locally brings to an end nearly eight years of foreign hosting.

“The second generation M-Pesa platform has a bigger capacity, is much faster and will  allow other merchants to connect directly to the platform, unlocking a new era of services,” said Betty Mwangi-Thuo, general manager Financial Service.

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