Standard Chartered Bank is planning to venture into the mobile loans segment in the near term, chief executive Kariuki Ngari has disclosed, underlining the growing popularity of the service in Kenya.
The top-tier lender, which until recently targeted corporates and high networth individuals, will be entering a crowded micro-lending field where a number of its peers already play in.
“It is only a matter of time. It’s something we are working on and looking at to see the best way of doing it (launching mobile loans service). We will have it soon,” Mr Ngari told the Business Daily.
KCB-M-Pesa (KCB Group), M-Shwari (Commercial Bank of Africa), Equitel (Equity Group), M-Co-op Cash (Co-operative Bank), Timiza (Barclays) and Whizz (HF Group) are some of the commercial bank-backed mobile loan apps already dishing out instant loans.
Competition in the space has also tightened with the proliferation of unregulated credit-only mobile loan apps such as San Francisco-headquartered Branch International, Tala Kenya and Opera Group-owned OKash, which have raised billions of shillings for this lending segment.
The popularity of mobile loans has been partly helped by suspension of unsecured personal loans by most commercial banks on the back of September 2016 ceilings on interest rates.
Findings of a survey by Consumer Insight Africa, a Nairobi-based quantitative research firm, suggested late last month that mobile loans have overtaken friends and family as largest source of loans in past two years.