Airtel Kenya’s Mobile Banking Product M-Fanisi Plagued By Systemic Failures


The growth of mobile money services has come a long way, and while it is a safe bet that the sector has somehow mature, issues such as service downtime do happen in some cases. For instance, over the holidays such as Christmas, locals have been known to rely on mobile money a lot, an activity that strains seamless transactions. In the past couple of weeks, some customers have not been able to access their money in micro-lending services, particularly Airtel Kenya’s recently launched M-Fanisi.

The product, which is managed by the said telco and Maisha Microfinance Bank has been subject to systematic failures for the better of its lifetime but the issues have escalated over the past week leaving users unable to access their savings or loan services.

Over the course of the month that followed the launch of M-Fanisi, customers who had taken loans could not pay them back. This caused unnecessary distress as users were surprisingly fined for late repayment. At the same time, requests for loans could not be processed.

What is more, Airtel Kenya failed to offer a timely explanation for system downtime in a world where correspondence is easily done via social media pages. This paints a picture of a bigger problem, which, as mentioned, lasted for an entire week.

A quick look at Twitter shows frustrated customers, with Airtel Kenya’s handle purposely ignoring their woes.

At the moment, the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) and the Communications Authority (CA) have failed to give a directive for this matter, which is disturbing owing to their mandate in policing ICT, mobile money and banking products. As a result, customers have been forced to fight on their own, with some threatening to walk into Airtel offices for a refund.

Airtel is yet to give an explanation of what actually occurred in a blunder that could actually cost them customers and revenue. Also, this is a mobile operator that has not been doing well thanks to financial woes, legal tussles with the CA and delayed the launch of competing services such as 4G LTE.