Image from saf.stanford.edu
The service allows any M-Pesa mobile money user to open a virtual account with CBA to start a savings scheme. Users can then borrow money from the bank via their phones.
The product has been embraced fully, with a reported KSh50 million (US$580,000) being borrowed by users in only 21 days of operations.
The ownership of the idea is being disputed in court by Faulu Kenya, a microfinance institution that launched a mobile loan product in partnership with Airtel Money in May this year.
Safaricom has since come out to contest the claims, saying it seeks to “clarify that M-Shwari is a proprietary product of Safaricom Limited which is the successful result of a 2-year product development process.”
Mobile money has been a big success in East Africa, with more banking institutions aiming to see how they can tap into the market and expand their businesses.
Mobile money services have also seen more Kenyans looped into banking and savings plans, with products like MKesho, a product of Equity Bank and Safaricom’s M-Pesa, along with the new product M-Shwari.
M-Pepea, a relatively similar platform to M-Shwari that targets Savings and Credit Co-operative Organization (SACCOs) that are also well endowed in Kenya, was also recently launched. The product does not require a person to start saving in order to qualify for a loan but builds on their current savings schemes in the various savings and credit organisations.