African mobile banking system M-Pesa allows customers to desposit and withdraw money using their phones. The service, developed by Kenya-based mobile network operator Safaricom, leverages a high penetration rate for mobile usage in countries like Kenya and Tanzania to give customers a convenient and affordable money transfer service.
Despite dodging a threat from banks to shut down M-Pesa, who claim that the service, now with 17.1 million customers in Kenya and close to 5 million in Tanzania, will cause people to lose money without regulatory infrastructure to support it, that claim has come true for one particular user.
AllAfrica reports that a Safaricom user, Makena Onjerika, had mistakenly sent money to a number registered to a Benson Kariuki. The money was withdrawn within 10 minutes of sending it.
Onjerika tried to reverse the transaction but the money had already been withdrawn. Safaricom customer care service cautioned that little could be done about it.
Onjerika tried to contact Kariuki, who ignored her pleas to refund the money.
On September 4, Onjerika wrote a blog post detailing the steps she took to get her money back, and asked readers to share the post through social media. Through the post, she also appeals for a protection system against mobile fraud. Her case went viral.
The next day, she posted an interaction with Safaricom who got a hold of a woman whose phone Kariuki used to transfer a portion of the money back.
As of September 7, Onjerika writes that she had received all her money back.
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