Over seven million subscribers are now using Kenyan mobile operator Safaricom’s microfinance platform M-Shwari, according to George Ndegwa from the operator’s financial services division.
Ndegwa was speaking at the 2014 Mobile Money and Digital Payments conference that kicked off in Johannesburg, South Africa yesterday.M-Shwari allows users to make use of the M-Pesa system to take out loans and save their money. “The total number of M-Pesa customers is 19 million so there still is great potential in terms of customer opt-ins,” Ndegwa said.
He said there is still great room for expansion as the company is able to issue one million unique loans a month. The platform aims at providing easy to access financial solutions to customers. “M-Shwari aims to promote a savings culture across all income levels and also including the people at the bottom of the pyramid,” Ndegwa said.
He said according to Safaricom research over US$2 billion remains unbanked. HumanIPO reported in February Safaricom and the Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA) announced plans to boost the number of M-Shwari users. Earlier this month the CBA, Safaricom and MultiChoice announced an initiative to allow Kenyans to acquire set-top-boxes using M-Shwari.
The GOtv decoder loan allows Kenyans to pay for the set-top boxes in three monthly installments.Since the launch of M-Shwari, numerous other operators have launched similar platforms. In January Airtel Kenya announced plans to launch an M-Shari competitor after suing Safaricom forallegedly stealing the idea.Most recently Vodacom Tanzania, along with CBA, launched a similar platform, called M-Pawa