Safaricom's plans to speed up M-Pesa payments system delayed
06 November 2013, 16:28
Nairobi - Safaricom, the leading telecoms operator, said a new system to make its popular M-Pesa mobile payments system faster and more reliable would be delayed until the first half of 2015 from the planned launch next summer.
Launched in 2007, M-Pesa allows users to transfer and deposit cash via their phones or borrow small loans. It now accounts for over half of cash sent via mobile globally each day and has been mimicked in other countries.
But its popularity has strained the platform on which the Safaricom's service now runs, causing occasional shutdowns and requiring routine upgrades to its capacity, now at 250 transactions per second.
China's Huawei has been building a second-generation platform to increase capacity to 600 transactions a second and improve rerouting of traffic when the system fails.
Safaricom, which is 40 percent owned by Britain's Vodafone, previously said this would be completed by next August.
Safaricom Chief Executive Bob Collymore told Reuters late on Tuesday the Huawei upgrade would now take nine months longer to complete but said he did not expect it to hurt the business.
He added that a temporary upgrade to raise capacity to 320 transactions per second would be in place by the year-end.
Safaricom said on Tuesday its profit before tax rose 38 percent to 15.9 billion shillings ($186.35 million), with M-Pesa revenue growing 20 percent to 12.5 billion shillings.
($1 = 85.3250 Kenyan shillings)