In 2012, Safaricom partnered with Commercial Bank of Africa and unveiled M-shwari a product that runs off Mpesa and in the menu. M-shwari allows customers to save money that is in Mpesa to a bank account without actually going to the bank to open an account. Users are able to save money from as low as 1 shilling and credit of as low as 100 shillings. Money borrowed is transferred immediately to Mpesa account for withdrawal. Users could also access credit facilities using the facility. M-shwari currently has 11 million registered users with 5.8 million active users.
M-Shwari has rapidly grown in the local market which has seen the bank seek to extend the services in other markets including Tanzania, where the telco partnered with Vodacom in launching M-Pawa. Early this year, CBA partnered with telco MTN in Uganda to launch a similar service called MoKash.
Mokash allows users to borrow from as low as UGX 3,000 (Kshs. 90) to a maximum of UGX 1,000,000 (Kshs. 30000) at an interest rate of 9%. Subscribers can also save on the service, earning interest rates of between 2-5% on their deposits. The minimum amount one can deposit is UGX 50 (Kshs. 1). The service has so far managed to lock in over 1.2 Million users in and processing more than 257,000 loans.
According to local paper Business Daily, Commercial Bank of Africa will be partnering with MTN in launching a similar service in Ivory Coast by Q3 2017. A similar service will also launch in Rwanda in April 2017, under a similar partnership between MTN and the bank. CBA plans to have the service operating in 10 African countries by 2020.
The plans by the bank point towards the general direction in which mobile devices are playing the primary role of financial inclusion. In addition, a partnership with a telco allows the bank to immediately access millions of users, without necessarily laying down physical infrastructure meaning they can easily offer their services on the go.