More than 100 Kenyan companies have signed up for a new mobile service offering employees access to mobile loans on an SMS request.
The service is particularly intended for those people who are stranded in remote areas that do not have formal banking systems or are in need of money for an emergency.
Called “M-PEPEA”, the service is a first from Raven, a firm founded in 2010 by two young Kenyans.
Edwin Maina and Dan Munga said they were inspired by cases that they saw of people who were stuck in need of money urgently.
”M-PEPEA’s purpose is not to compete with traditional micro-lending as it only applies to emergency situations where users can within a short period of time access money to fulfil short-term needs,” said Maina.
Five investors have contributed funding towards the pair’s M-PEPEA service, which cost Sh200 000 to develop.
M-PEPEA does appear on the SIM settings for phones registered with Safaricom, which holds 67% of Kenya’s telecoms market.
Users who register for the service can send an SMS to an M-PEPEA bill number requesting funds. The firm then advances money through Safaricom’s M-PESA platform.
The system, now fully automated to lend emergency loans to employees of various organisations in Kenya, is codenamed Emergency Mobile Credit. It allows M-PESA registered users to access small emergency loans anytime, anywhere, without the necessity of having to wait for advance approvals, or having to visit a financial institution to request emergency money.
To avoid the issue of loan defaulting, Raven limits the M-PEPEA product to permanent employees in reputable organisations where Raven enters agreements with employers to deduct the credit borrowed plus interest from the employees’ end month payments.
The employee signs an agreement with Raven accepting to access credit of a predefined amount of money per month and repay the credit via salary deductions. So far, 105 companies have signed on their employees, according to Raven.
Borrowers are also allowed to withdraw a minimum amount of Sh5 000, with a maximum of Sh30 000 per month to M-PEPEA Lite individuals.