Maisha Microfinance, Airtel Kenya launch M-Fanisi, a new mobile savings and loan service

Maisha Microfinance Bank has partnered with Airtel Money to launch MFanisi, a savings and loan mobile money service that offers registered Airtel Money subscribers an avenue to access cash while receiving the most competitive interest rates for money saved.

Maisha is the first telco-backed microfinance to roll out a mobile money savings and loan product in the market and the fourth financial institution in the market alongside heavy hitters such as CBA, KCB and Equity.

(TOP: From left – Habil Olaka, CEO, KBA; Ireneus Gichana, CEO, Maisha MicroFinance Bank and Airtel MD, Prasanta Das Sarma during the launch of M-Fanisi).

Speaking at the launch of M-Fanisi, DrHabil Olaka, CEO, Kenya Bankers Association (KBA), said: “Digital financial services have re-defined service delivery within the sector, offering even greater access to mainstream banking services, especially to the under banked. We are pleased with Maisha Microfinance Bank’s aggressive innovation strategy which leverages Africa’s most utilized technology, the mobile handset, to provide a platform that not only extends financial services but also enhances a savings culture within our population.”

He added: “According to a World Bank Report, only 25% of Africa’s population has bank accounts despite a progressive economic growth of nearly 7%. The potential savings in cost, the speed and convenience associated with digital financial services, can be especially promising in the effort to expand access to finance to those who are excluded from the formal sector.”

So far M-Fanisi has made great strides in the 45-day pilot period, during which Maisha Microfinance in partnership with Airtel Money and Blue Sky Consultants, tested the system to ensure it was running smoothly. Among the notable achievements during the pilot period include over 50,000 new accounts opened, over 20,000 loans accessed and up to 2,000 loan applications made on a daily basis.

The trend witnessed in the pilot phase align with the recent Central Bank of Kenya data which reveals a rising upsurge in mobile transactions from January 2017 to July 2017 at Kshs 2.1 trillion, representing a rise of 12.5% from last year’s Kshs 1.8 trillion transacted over the same period last year.

Commenting on the partnership, Prasanta Das Sarma, MD of Airtel Kenya, said: “We are pleased to be partnering with a visionary and financially sound institution like Maisha Microfinance Bank to offer value for money quality products and services. As a company we are committed to impacting the lives of the communities that we operate in; this partnership offers Airtel Money customers more for less, in that they can borrow affordably and save at competitive interest rates, in addition to enjoying the lowest charges on voice and data services in the market.”

Mr Sarma encouraged Airtel subscribes to register for Airtel Money services to begin enjoying M-Fanisi saying, “Airtel has enhanced its customer reach and satisfaction through upgrading the Airtel Money system and increasing the active Agent base to 22,000 from 10,000. All these developments, including real time payments processing services across multiple access channels have played a key role in ensuring seamless transactions for all our customers.

Discussing the M-Fanisi design process, Ireneus Gichana, the CEO of Maisha Microfinance Bank said: “we are sincerely grateful for the invaluable support and dedication from our dedicated partners Airtel Money and Bluesky Consultants.It is because of them that we are here to mark this major milestone where Maisha Microfinance Bank takes its place as a champion for greater financial inclusion.”

He added: “We can confidently say that we are unveiling a product that is going to impact this market significantly because as partners we have taken time to understand our client’s needs and will continue to develop M-Fanisi from time to time to meet these needs.”

Among M-Fanisi’s key competitive features include:

  • Access to loans repayable within 7 days, 14 days and 30 days at an attractive one-off facility fee of 3%, 5% and 7.5% respectively with excise duty applicable on the fees.
  • Fixed deposit accounts can be opened for a period of 1 to 12 months and earn attractive interest of between 8.50% p.a. to 11.25% p.a. depending on period.
  • Savings accounts opened earn interest of 7% p.a.
  • Money transfered in and out of the M-Fanisi to Airtel Money is FREE.

In conclusion, Gichana said: “we are grateful to all our stakeholders who have walked this journey with us. For us, we did not just launch a product today; we are marking the opening of the third Branch of Maisha Microfinance Bank. We began with the opening of our flagship branch at Chester House. This was quickly followed by the roll out of the M-Doh mobile-based application that allows customers to carry out all their banking needs, including making deposits and transfers and paying utilities. We now have M- Fanisi that has opened up our lending and savings products to millions of potential new clients through their mobile phones.”

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