Safaricom launches new m-banking service

By Semaj Itosno, Nairobi, Kenya

Kenya’s leading mobile operator, Safaricom, in collaboration with Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA) has unveiled a mobile banking service that allows M-PESA users save and borrow money using their phones.

Dubbed M-shwari (Swahili for calm) the service, which mainly targets micro-savers and borrowers, requires users to open a mobile bank account, into which they can deposit as low as Sh1 in savings and borrow up to Sh100,000 payable with a one-off interest rate of 7.5%.

Users of the mobile banking service will remotely open the M-Shwari account using their phones thus avoid the hectic traditional banking.

According to Safaricom, M-Shwari will attract a one-time facilitation fee of 7.5% of the borrowed amount and all loans are payable within a month of disbursement.

The firm said, one needs to be an M-PESA subscriber for at least six months, deposit some savings in their M-Shwari account and be a regular user of other Safaricom services such as voice, data and M-PESA to qualify for the service.

Too open an M-Shwari account, you need to go to the Safaricom menu in your  phones, select “M-PESA”,then  “My Account”, “Update Menu”, enter “M-PESA PIN” and wait to receive the updated M-Pesa menu.

With statistics showing that over Sh300 billion in circulation in Kenya is outside the formal banking system, M-Shwari aims to bring some of that money into the formal banking channels by targeting the 12 million Kenyans identified by the Central Bank of Kenya and the Kenya Bureau of Statistics as unbanked.

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