Most people survive on mobile loans in Kenya.
Now it’s straight forward and convenient to get instant unsecured loans straight to your mobile phone.
Mobile money has transformed how lending is done in this country as more and more people opt for such avenues at the expense of banks and other traditional lending institutions.
However, as pioneers in mobile money transfer using Mpesa, Kenyans have become addicted to instant loans that require little or no security at all.
Mobile lending platforms are offered by:
- Prudential companies (such as banks, deposit-taking cooperatives and insurance providers)
- Non-prudential entities
- Registered bodies
- Non-deposit-taking cooperatives
- Informal groups such as saving circles, employers, shop keepers and moneylenders.
Customers who need to borrow a small personal loan for an amount between Ksh 100 and Ksh 50,000, will have an instant approval with money deposited directly into their MPesa mobile money accounts.
Despite their small size, mobile loans are often costly. Interest rates are high – some as high as 43% – and borrowers are charged for late payments.
Let me take you through some of the best mobile loan Apps one by one.
1. Tala (Formerly Mkopo Rahisi)
It was the first instant mobile lending App launched as Mkopo Rahisi in 2014 and it later rebranded to Tala.
Tala App requires one to have a smartphone and a good MPesa Track record to access their loans.
To determine your loan limit, The App depends on your repayment behaviour by reading your MPesa transaction activities. So, ensure you keep your MPesa messages.
The loans are disbursed to your MPesa account. The minimum you can borrow is Ksh 500 while the maximum is Ksh 50,000 at an interest rate of 15%.
The loan is to be paid back in weekly instalments of three weeks through Tala MPesa Paybill number 851900. Loan defaulters are restricted from qualifying for future investments.
Berry offers low-cost instant mobile loans in Kenya with flexible repayment schedules.
First, you have to download the App from Google Play Store and then register on Berry. Once the system officials have verified your identity, you can then access their loans.
The first loan on Berry cannot exceed Ksh. 500 and then the amount gradually rises to Ksh. 50,000. The service fee on Berry loans is charged at 9-16% of the principal amount.
The repayment is done through the App and is a self-explanatory process.
Nonetheless, on Google Playstore, it has received a less-satisfactory rating with most customers complaining about bad user experience with the App.
Some claim the App takes you in rounds without actually giving you a loan.
3. Branch Loan App
Branch International Inc. is a San Francisco based company with a branch in Nairobi. It was launched in Kenya in 2015 and has been active ever since.
It is one of the most genuine money lending Apps in Kenya.
To qualify for credit using this App, you need to be a registered MPesa user and have an official active Facebook account with usernames matching those in your National ID card.
You need to download and install Branch App from the Google Play store, sign up and link the App to your Facebook account, provide required details like Phone number, National ID number, etc.
Verify your Phone number by clicking on the link sent to your phone via SMS. Link the App to your Facebook account. Fill the required details; M-Pesa number, National ID, etc. Verify your account by clicking on the link that is sent to your phone via SMS.
The minimum limit is Ksh 250, and the maximum loan limit is 70,000.
The loan is disbursed via MPesa, and the interest rate is dependent on repayment of the weekly instalments by the due date, which ultimately increases the credit score and decreases the interest rate.
MShwari is not an App per se, but a lending platform built within MPesa where you can get a loan quickly as a Safaricom customer.
Due to the large subscriber base of Safaricom, MShwari has a majority share of lending market standing at 29%
It’s not just a borrowing platform; it also allows users to save money and earn a 7% interest annually only if the money is retained in the account until maturity.
You access loans of a minimum of Ksh. 100 and the limit rises based on your credit history. You can only access MShwari loans if you have Safaricom line and have registered your line in M-PESA.
Before you can borrow, you must have used your Safaricom number and MPesa Account for a couple of months.
5. Timiza by Absa
On March 16, Barclays Bank of Kenya launched its Timiza App that enables both customers and non-customers to access quick mobile loans.
The best thing about Timiza is that it is open to anybody with a mobile phone and you don’t need an Absa account to use Timiza App.
It is also suitable for savings, and you increase your chances of getting a loan by depositing money into the App through M-Pesa mobile money.
If you are not using a smartphone, you can still access loan services from Timiza by dialling *848# on your mobile phone.
6. KCB M-Pesa
KCB MPesa is a partnership between the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) with MPesa through Safaricom.
The platform started in 2015 as a saving account and has been active ever since. It is possible to borrow without saving, and the loan disbursed through KCB MPesa Menu on your phone.
The minimum limit is Ksh 50 and a maximum of up to Ksh 1,000,000. Loan interest is at a rate of 1.16% per month, with a one-off negotiation fee of 2.5%.
The cost of a month’s loan is 3.66% with excise duty applicable to payments.
You ought to be an active registered Safaricom MPesa customer for six months to qualify for a loan. Also, you can dial *844# and follow user prompts to activate our KCB-MPesa account.
7. Zenka Loan App
Among the new loan apps that have entered the Kenyan market recently is Zenka, and they have come with an exciting and captivating offer.
For the first loan you get using the app, you are charged zero interest and zero service fee.
Zenka Finance owns Zenka, and they promise loans in the range of 500 to 30,000 payable in 61 days.
It charges a onetime processing fee of 9% to 30% of the principal amount and offers an option for customers to repay their loans within 12 Months through the ZenkaFlexi service.
To secure a loan, you download the App from Google Play, sign up, fill up an application form and receive money in your MPesa account; a process they claim could take less than 5 minutes.
No wonder it has already accumulated over 1,000,000 downloads on Google Play.
8. CBA Loop Loan
CBA Loop a product of Commercial bank of Africa launched in 2018. The App is a digital banking service that helps you manage your money better right from your phone.
That means you skip queues, red tape, and all the monotony that comes with conventional banking.
With Loop, you can send money, make payments, invest, save, and access loans at the tap of a button. When managing your money is smarter and more accessible, more than what banking can offer.
You need to use CBA Loop for at least three months before you qualify for a loan.
The best part is their loans have no limit, and you can borrow up to 3 million in cash and has the most prolonged repayment period compared to other money lending apps.
9. HF Whizz Loan App
When you use this App for the first time, you can qualify for a loan of up to 22,000. Nevertheless, you are required to visit one of their branches for KYC to get a loan.
The group is a credible entity, and be sure you will be served when you try them out. HF Whizz App allows you to borrow up to a maximum limit of 50,000, and it similar to Timiza App by Barclays.
Apart from loans, you can also pay bills and send money to other people. To get started with HF Whizz App, head over to Google Play Store, download the App and sign up.
The process of registration is straight forward, and you will get a loan after using the App for a while.
10. Okash Loan App
Another simple mobile loan App is Okash which is a product of Opay, a Fintech subsidiary of the Opera group, maker of the popular Opera mini browser.
Okash App has over 1,000,000 downloads on the Google Play, and they offer personal and business loans to anyone between the age of 20 to 55 who has a fixed income.
Okash claims to offer loans between Ksh 1500 and Ksh 70,000 depending on the applicant’s credit score and a tenure period from 3 months to one year to pay.
11. Saida Loan App
You can qualify for a loan with Saida after using the app for a month. Depending on how you use this app, you may be eligible for cash loans repayable in 2.5 months.
Saida charges a service fee of 0 – 21% per month (APR 0% -252%) of the amount lent to you based on how we rate your creditworthiness. The amount can be repaid within 2.5 – 6 months, and the schedule may vary depending on your credit rating.
When you repay a loan after the due date, you will not be charged, but you will be charged a one-time debt collection fee if your loan is later than 35 days.
There are no penalties for early repayment. If you are late by more than 60 days, a penalty of 10% will be applied to the overdue amount, and no further penalties or charges will apply again.
Saida App is rated 3.6 stars on Google PlayStore, and it has over 500,000 downloads.
12. Kashway Loan App.
Kashway is a mobile loan app that offers lending services to customers and allows you to apply for a loan in two steps and get money. It offers loans between 500 Ksh to 50,000 Ksh at low-interest rates most conveniently and securely.
Applying for a loan using KashWay is very easy and almost instant. They offer loans for a tenor between 3 to 6 months and give an interest rate of 36% APR.
How to apply for a loan using Kashway:
- Register with your M-PESA number
- Apply for the exact loan amount you need
- Get approved and receive the money in minutes
- Repay on time to get a credit limit of 50,000 Ksh
13. M-Kopo Haraka.
Mkopo Haraka has a 3.6-star rating, 50k plus downloads on the Google play store. The least loan amount one can borrow is Ksh 500, and the maximum is Ksh 60,000, whereas the shortest tenor is 60 days and the longest is 180 days.
Their interest rate is at 12% APR. Depending on the loan amount for which you are eligible, you have the option to choose repayment terms for up to 180 days. Customers have the option to select a period as short as 60 days.
14. iPesa Loan App.
This is another reliable loan app with a 4.1-star rating on Google Play Store. The app has over 1 million downloads. You can get a loan of between 500 and 50,000 Ksh.
The shortest tenor is 91 days, and the longest is 180 days. Their interest rate is 12%, and the app offers loans without a single service fee.
iPesa has a maximum APR of 36%. Register with your official registered M-PESA number and apply for the loan amount you would like.
Follow all the repayment steps, as indicated in the mobile app. If you repay your credits on time, your credit limit will be set at Ksh. 50,000.
15. Zash Loan App.
Zash Loan App is another genuine loan app that gives a quick loan to help everyone in Kenya who may need money to grow their business, pay for school fees, buy things, or finance any other emergencies. This app has a 4.2-star rating and over 500,000 downloads on the play store.
As a digital lending platform, Zash Loan will charge service fees according to the product you choose, used for credit score assessment, account management, and payment cost.
It gives a loan amount of anything between Ksh 500 and KSh 50,000. The shortest term is 91 days, and the longest is 120 days.
They have an interest rate of 20% per year and an APR of 24%. Payment is via through our M-Pesa Paybill 733555 and the account no. is the M-PESA phone number you sign up with. Excellent and timely repayment will increase your credit.
In my opinion, the best apps are Tala, Branch, and Zenka; from personal experience and views of other users that I know of.
With Zenka, you get your first loan free, and they provide instantly. It’s always good to check if you had been wrongfully blacklisted by the Credit Reference Bureau (CRB).
It only takes seconds to check your credit score with CRB to qualify for a higher limit.
KCB MPesa and MShwari, which have a majority share of the lending market, are only open to clients of KCB Bank or Safaricom LLC, respectively.
Regardless to say, there is a significant disadvantage of mobile loan Apps which most consumers are not aware of. This has to do with the much-elevated interest rates of mobile loan Apps.
Banks and microfinance institutions are now competing with fintech firms to lend out money to customers.
Top banks such as KCB, Equity, Cooperative Bank and Commercial Bank of Africa lure customers to transact on phones, which helps them grow their non-interest income.
While the amendments in the banking laws restricted banks to price loans not above four per cent the benchmark lending rate from the regulator, banks intensified their investments in mobile loan products riding on huge volumes to mitigate the lost interest income.
With mobile loans, banks have an opportunity to rake in crazy interests as shylocks.
So, choose your creditors wisely.