KCB Bank Kenya & Safaricom Plc. have committed to support customers in financial distress, making available more affordable lending and cutting transaction costs on mobile as part of the measures to assist as the country grapples with the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement—which follows a meeting hosted by President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi on Wednesday, bringing together banking industry players— will see KCB Bank set aside Sh30 billion in a stimulus fund for onward lending to KCB M-PESA customers during the next 90 days.
The fund will allow for higher borrowing limits for qualifying customers and extended repayment periods for borrowers with existing facilities.
Other relief measures available to individual customers, and small business owners will include renegotiations of the loan contracts to either allow repayment moratoriums, or extending the repayment periods up to one year. The Bank will foot the legal costs associated with the loans restructuring.
“We stand with Kenyans and all our customers at this time as our country and the world grapples with the pandemic. Our firm priority remains to ensure that our employees, customers, business partners and the entire population remain safe and free from the virus,” said KCB Group CEO and MD Joshua Oigara.
“We have a role to continue supporting the economy and stimulating growth. The best remedy as our economy starts to slow down is to support our customers to get along with their lives, and to protect jobs by providing additional lending. We have been in crises before, but if we pull together, even in this environment, we will get the solutions Kenya needs,” he added.
The bank and Safaricom will also open the door to customers who had been blacklisted at the Credit Reference Bureaus (CRBs) but have since cleared their facility.
“We shall open credit limits to those customers who had been listed because of defaulting on small amounts, but who are now repaying their loans. Customers who need relief are advised to get in touch with us to work out the respective support areas,” said Mr. Oigara.
KCB has more than 22 million customers who borrowed Sh212 billion in 2019 on its KCB-MPESA mobile lending platform which is operated in partnership with Safaricom.
These measures are additional to the zero-rating of bank to mobile and mobile to bank transactions in order to increase the usage of digital channels as opposed to cash in order to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus.
On Monday, Safaricom waived transaction fees for amounts below Sh1000 in response to the President’s plea of reducing cash transactions aimed at limiting the spread of coronavirus in Kenya.
“Our goal remains ensuring that our customers and our nation comes out of this storm strong together to continue the work of nation-building. This is the time to stand shoulder to shoulder, to ensure that no one is left behind when this is all over,” said Mr. Oigara.