Safaricom Fuliza leads among top digital lenders driving over 20 Million Youths to CRB listing

 

Safaricom headquarters photo

 

Safaricom Fuliza is an overdraft feature designed after a loan item Mshwari partnered with NCBA.

 

Digital lending has been a thorny issue in the country with over 20 Million people in CRB.

 

The biggest thing about Fuliza is the interest that it earns on the borrowed amount. What they avoid talking about at all costs because if Kenyans knew what’s up they would avoid it like the plague.

 

In the Safaricom website under FAQs for Fuliza, they have indicated that the customer will be charged a one-off interest rate of 1.083% and a daily administrative fee on the outstanding balance ranging from KES 2-30 for a limit of 0-70,000. Those numbers don’t look bad right?

 

In essence, what that means is that while a bank will give you an annual rate of not more than 13.6(currently the highest by Jamii bora bank as per CBK website June report), Safaricom will give you an annualized rate of 395.2% per year. Even the Bank overdraft does not accumulate such.

Compare this with their other products like Mshwari that charge 7.5% standard fee(not revolving on outstanding balance like Fuliza) which is essentially around 90% per year(still high but incomparable by a long shot).


What this means In numbers exactly is this: If you borrow Sh 1000 from Mshwari you’ll part with around Sh 56  interest, if a customer Fuliza the same Sh 1000  then they will repay with around Sh 244. This is if both debts last 30days.

 

And of course, this real cost of debt is never mentioned much lest Kenyans know they are not paying that 1.083% or the 7.5% for the Fuliza. It is bad for business. They choke it down to product differentiation but it’s purely extortionist.

 

Fuliza product is no different from all these digital lending apps that are all over Kenya burdening the majority of Kenya’s poor with debt that can only be classified as slavery now. That’s why big papers like financial times call this ‘perpetual debt in the silicon savanna.’

 

And another thing that makes it all the more disturbing is that it does not fall under Kenya Bankers Association so it is not a regulated product like what banks offer so they will inflate that interest rate to their hearts desires without any repercussions in the long run.


Safaricom is essentially a telecommunication firm that is now offering financial services but doesn’t want to be classified as such and can’t according to the law. Communications authority powers are limited to their communication services.

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