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M-Pesa sister service clocks up transactions


Richard Handford

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M-Shwari, the new mobile banking service launched by Safaricom, has had total transactions of KES1.1 billion ($12.7 million) since its launch in November last year.

The Kenyan operator’s new service has attracted savings of KES976 million and made loans of KES123 million since its launch (all figures for end of December 2012).

Safaricom, who launched the service jointly with the local Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA) and Vodafone, also offered a profile of its customers.

It says nearly one quarter (24 percent) are young users in the 26-30 age group. In addition, a further 18.5 per cent were in the 31-35 age group and 18 per cent in the 23-25 age group.

M-Shwari is the sister service to M-Pesa, Safaricom’s highly successful money transfer service, and is an attempt to introduce savings and loans to M-Pesa users.

The mismatch between M-Shwari’s savings and loan figures (the former is about eight times the size of the latter) might be explained by the comments of an observer at the service’s launch. He said CBA does not have a background in making loans to low income earners and cited the onerous loan terms offered by M-Shwari.

Nevertheless CBA chief executive Jeremy Ngunze told the Daily Nation that the bank was “overwhelmed at how well the product has picked up and the show of confidence from our customers. This product will clearly change the game in the local financial sector”.

He said the service will “significantly” impact the bank’s turnover. There are also plans to launch the M-Shwari service in Tanzania, he said.

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