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Airtel users affected as mobile money outage hits lender

Airtel staff serving customers. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Airtel staff serving customers. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

A section of Airtel Kenya customers linked to a microfinancier have complained of inability to access mobile money accounts after an outage reportedly lasting up to three weeks, which the telco says has been resolved.

Although Airtel Kenya on Monday said the system outage had been sorted out, some customers said they were still having trouble.

Maisha Microfinance Bank (Maisha MFB) in partnership with Airtel last September rolled out the mobile money savings and loan product dubbed M-Fanisi targeting registered Airtel Money subscribers.

Last December M-Shwari accounts reported delays and inconsistencies in their cash balances.

During the period a number of customers who contacted both Safaricom and Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA), which runs the mobile accounts, were told they would have to wait for up to 72 hours before they could have “their issues resolved.” The hitch was later dealt with.

“I am unable to pay loans due to system errors but loan penalties are still slapped,” said an Airtel customer.

Another user, who also did not wish to be identified for fear of compromising business relations, said he was unable to access his savings.

“There was a system downtime between 20th Jan 2018 and 22nd Jan 2018 which was resolved and the platform was restored and made available to customers for transacting,” said Airtel Kenya in response to the Business Daily queries.

“Customers’ issues are currently being addressed on a case by case basis. However, since the issue was resolved, we do not expect any further inconveniences for our customers,” it added.

Last September, Maisha MFB became the first telco-backed microfinance to launch a savings and mobile money solution in the market and the fourth financial institution, alongside banks such as Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA), Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) #ticker:KCB and Equity #ticker:EQTY.

On Monday, Maisha MFB chief executive Ireneus Gichana said the hitch had been resolved and linked it to a system change that improved the “attributes of the product in response to customer feedback”.

“The hitch was temporary and has since been resolved,” said Mr Gichana in interview.

Prior to the launch last September, the product had undergone a 45-day pilot period to ensure that it was running smoothly.

Mr Gichana said the product had attracted 100,000 customers so far.