President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday officially opened the two-day AfroAsia Fintech Festival at the Kenya School of Monetary Study.
The festival brought together 2,000 delegates from 43 countries in the fintech space; banks, telcos, regulators, fintechs, start-ups and government officials. The FinTech Conference featured insights from global and industry leaders from Africa and Asia.
In his speech, the President singled out four fintech products that have transformed Kenya or promise to fundamentally alter how we live and do business.
President Kenyatta hailed M-Pesa as a transformative solution that has gained global acclaim in enhancing financial inclusion. The mobile money service is largely responsible for Kenya’s triple jump of financial services from 26 percent in 2006 to 82 percent in 2019.
“More importantly, mobile phone financial services have lifted thousands of Kenyans out of poverty and enhanced their livelihoods. We are scoring astounding accomplishments,” said the President.
He termed M-Pesa as a ‘global poster child for financial services innovation.’
A year after launch in 2008 M-Pesa’s active user base had rapidly grown to over 1.2 million. Now, M-pesa has over 30 million users.
Riding on the M-Pesa platform is the pay-as-you-go solar energy firm that has provided affordable access to basic energy to over 700,000 homes in Kenya and Uganda. M-Kopa Solar uses a SIM enabled solar kit which allows users to make affordable payments through M-Pesa.
The President said the groundbreaking innovation “has enabled many rural household to receive solar lighting, thus liberating families from the time-consuming pursuit of firewood and kerosene fuels while also enabling children to study longer at night.”
Another first-in-the-world that the President mentioned is M-Akiba, a retail infrastructure bond issued by the Government of Kenya that is exclusively traded via the mobile phone. Launched in 2017, M-Akiba provides a savings mechanism for ordinary Kenyans who can save as little as Sh100 a day which they can invest in government securities.
“For my Government, our key motivation in rolling out this product was to democratize access to financial services and to give space at the heart of the financial system to every Kenyan no matter their location, social or economic status. In this, we are scoring astounding accomplishments.”
The Central Bank of Kenya backed mobile loan product was launched end of May but has attracted the attention of the President mainly because of its promise of providing fast and affordable mobile credit to SMEs.
Stawi has been developed by Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA), Diamond Trust Bank (DTB), KCB Bank, NIC and Cooperative Bank.
Entrepreneurs can access credit via the Stawi Mobile app which offers unsecured loans ranging between Sh30,000 and Sh250,000 with a repayment of up to 12 months.
“While Stawi is still in its inception stages I am delighted to report that Stawi Loans will be offered at single-digit interest rates, greatly enhancing access to credit by MSMEs, which will ultimately lead to greater shared prosperity of our citizen,” said President Kenyatta.