Kenyans transacted Sh3 trillion via mobile phones last year

Tuesday February 28 2017

An M-Pesa user in Nairobi. PHOTO/ FILE

An M-Pesa user in Nairobi. Kenyans transacted Sh3.35 trillion through mobile cash in 2016 compared to Sh2.82 trillion the previous year. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By DAVID HERBLING
More by this Author

The volume of cash moved through mobile money transfer platforms grew by a fifth last year to cross the Sh3 trillion mark for the first time, aided by increased uptake of mobile loans, according to official data.

Kenyans transacted Sh3.35 trillion through mobile cash in 2016 compared to Sh2.82 trillion the previous year on the back of an increase in mobile lending apps, the latest data from the Central Bank shows.

This means that Kenyans transacted an average of Sh280 billion in real-time mobile-based payments per month, or Sh9.2 billion a day last year — compared to the Sh7.7 billion moved daily through mobile money in the full year of 2015.

Mobile banking apps such as M-Shwari, Equitel, M-Co-op Cash and KCB M-Pesa have transformed how Kenyans access loans dispensing with lengthy paperwork, collateral demands or vetting by credit officers.

There are also standalone mobile lending apps such as Branch, Tala, Saida and Mombo Mobile, which issue short-term loans via mobile money, charging only a processing fee.

Analysts at Cytonn Investments said they project growth in uptake of loans from mobile channels in the light of the interest rate caps, which have stifled lending to small entrepreneurs considered risky borrowers.

“We expect to record an increase in mobile credit lending driven by accessibility of the loans, high demand from the middle income population, instant loans that take five minutes to process unlike long approval processes in traditional banking methods,” Cytonn said in a research note.

Mobile money has evolved to become a loan disbursement tool, adding to other uses such as peer transfers, betting, paying for shopping, utility bills (water, rent and electricity), school fees, and receiving dividends.

Branch, a Facebook-linked mobile app that allows users to borrow and repay micro-loans via mobile money platform M-Pesa said it has a loan book of Sh2 billion.

The average loan size is now at $35 (Sh3,500) and the app has 180,000 customers in Kenya, processing about 3,000 loans daily priced at between six per cent and 12 per cent depending on size and repayment period.

Tala, previously known as Mkopo Rahisi, said it has disbursed more than 900,000 loans in the past year to have its loan book at Sh3.5 billion.

The app’s co-founder Shivani Siroya said Tala’s average loan size is $37 (Sh3,700) in Kenya, with an approval rate of about 60 per cent.

The loan fee ranges between 11-15 per cent.

CBA currently disburses an average of 70,000 loans via M-Shwari, with the average credit size being Sh3,300.

This loan facility is only available to M-Pesa subscribers and attracts a facility fee of 7.5 per cent charged on the amount borrowed which must be repaid within 30 days.

Equity-backed Equitel mobile money processed loans worth Sh20.8 billion as at September 2016, the lender said in its quarter three update.

KCB Group said mobile loans applications now stand at 80,000 a day and that its M-Pesa loan book stands at Sh17 billion, a fourfold growth from Sh4.3 billion in September 2015.