Airtel Kenya is eying a larger share of the mobile money market with the launch of a new loan facility on its Airtel Money platform designed to woo the lower-income end of the market. The company has partnered with microfinance institution ,Faulu Kenya, to see its mobile money subscribers apply for and access short-term micro loans from their phones.
The agreement will also see Airtel use 14000 agents on the Faulu network, in addition to the existing 6000 it already has. Mobile money market is currently dominated by Safaricoms's M-pesa which has about 15 million subscribers while Airtel Money has managed three million so far. Mobile money platforms have evolved from just a money transfer services to paying bills,purchasing goods, buying airtime among other uses and now access to credit.
Through the 'Faulu Airtel kopa chapaa' service, users can get loans between Sh100 to Sh10, 000 repayable in 10 days. To access the loans, one must have been subscribed to Airtel for at least six months. Faulu Kenya MD John Mwara said the interest rates which will range between 3-10 per cent will depend on the amount and the credit history of the client.
Defaulters details will be forwarded to the Credit Reference Bureau, making it hard for them to access loans elsewhere. Other mobile money platforms have products with financial institutions with diverse range of services. These include Orange money a product of Telkom Kenya and equity Bank and M-Kesho account, to access Faulu Airtel kopa chapaa service, users need not to be Faulu clients.