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Mobile apps lift access to financial services : The Standard

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Concerns, however, remain on the cost of money transfers

Kenyans’ access to the formal financial sector has more than doubled in the past decade, largely driven by mobile banking and lending apps.

New data from the 2019 edition of the FinAccess Household Survey further indicates that the number of Kenyans excluded from formal finance has narrowed to just 11 per cent of the population.
“These developments could be attributed to the introduction of mobile financial services in 2007, followed by increased partnerships and innovations such as mobile banking, agency banking, digital finance and mobile apps,” said the FinAccess report released yesterday in part.
According to the study conducted by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) and Financial Sector Deepening (FSD), formal financial inclusion has risen to 82.9 per cent, up from 26.7 per cent in 2006, while complete exclusion has fallen to 11 per cent, down from 41.3 per cent in 2006.
Gaps in informal financial access between the genders and rural and urban dwellers have also declined to six and 14 per cent, down from 11 and 12 per cent respectively.
The study also found a rising concern that the cost of digital finance services was eroding these gains, pushing more low-income earners in the country to borrow and save in informal channels such as investment groups (chamas).
“Despite the progress made so far, affordability and consumer protection issues such as unexpected charges remain barriers to formal service access,” said the report.
“Even more notable is the considerable modesty of the developmental impact of formal financial access. Many Kenyans have formal accounts in various forms, but these accounts are rarely used because they are not solving real day-to-day problems for many households, smaller and microscale businesses and farmers.”
At least 70 per cent of those polled said they had borrowed money from at least one investment group in the last 12 months, with the rest reporting to have borrowed from more than one group.
Another 30 per cent of the respondents, on the other hand, said they saved their money in investment groups, with another 23 per cent using a “secret hiding place.”
Mobile money also ranked highly as a favourable saving channel, with 53 per cent of Kenyans reporting to have saved funds in their mobile money accounts.
At the same time, the study found microfinance institutions had reported a decline in use on the back of growing popularity of mobile lending.
“Strong growth in uptake of digital apps loans from 0.6 per cent in 2016 to 8.3 per cent in 2019 indicates the role unregulated service providers are playing in financial services,” explained the report.
Kenyans also appeared to favour more than one financial service, with 73 per cent saying they used both traditional and mobile money platforms, highlighting the growing convergence between banks and mobile money service providers.

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World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021

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World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.

“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.

He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.

The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.

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People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.

For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.

Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.

“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.

ALSO READ:Global Economy Plunges into Worst Recession – World Bank

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Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans

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The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.

“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”

According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.

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Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans

The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.

Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.

Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.

SEE ALSO: Central Bank Unveils Measures to Tame Unregulated Digital Lenders

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Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options. 

This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.

The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.

The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.

The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).

The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.

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The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour;  Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).

The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.

Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”

He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.

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