14 December 2012

Kenya: Safaricom Challenges Faulu's M-Shwari Suit

Safaricom has defended itself against accusations by by Faulu Kenya Deposit Taking Microfinance over intellectual property rights of M-Shwari, saying the allegations are untrue.

The company, which launched the mobile banking product last month has denied stealing the rights, and says all legal process were followed.

"We believe that this law suit is tainted with malice because it is founded on untrue allegations," Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore said in a media statement yesterday.

Faulu moved to court on Tuesday to stop Safaricom from operating M-Shwari saying Safaricom copied its idea. "While this matter is already in court and is therefore subject to sub judice rules, Safaricom Ltd seeks to clarify that M-Shwari is a banking product of the Commercial Bank of Africa and authorised as such by the Central Bank of Kenya," he said.

M-Shwari allows users to save and borrow between Sh100 to Sh20,000. In May, Faulu launched 'Kopa Chapaa' with Airtel which allows borrowing between Sh100 to Sh10,000. In its suit Faulu says it had pitched the idea to Safaricom a few years back seeking to use its M-Pesa platform.

"While the allegations are lamentable and unfortunate, Safaricom will seek to have the matter resolved through the right legal processes," said Collymore.

It said the product has been under development for the last two years in line with its drive for financial inclusivity since 2007, when it launched M-Pesa.

"The commitment has been sustained through relevant enhancements informed by proactive research into user habits, dynamic customer needs and emerging trends, relating to the use of M-Pesa and other mobile finance solutions," Collymore assured its customers that all measures were being taken to ensure minimal service disruptions.

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