It is no secret that every single industry is leveraging technology to advance their business, and fintech startups are excellent examples that have demonstrated how mobile apps can be used to offer solutions that were not available to people before. Specifically, loan apps or mobile lenders have taken advantage of the lengthy processes that people are subjected to when requesting for loans from traditional financial institutions. Such processes, among other issues such as financial crises have seen reduction in financing for small businesses from the mainstream banking sector, and the problem extends to personal or individual loans. Hence, a new breed of alternative lenders such as Branch, Tala, MkopoKaka and Shika (new kid on the block), among others, have emerged to contain the need for people or small businesses to get access to loans. These fintech firms have pioneered a unique online and digital approach that looks forward to enhancing the process of accessing loans with just a few taps on your smart handheld.
One of the primary reason loan apps have become disruptive is because they have managed to eliminate unnecessary paperwork especially through mobile devices. This solves a lot of things, including taking care of an emergency as funds trickle directly to a customer’s M-PESA account in minutes. For example, Branch, which is tied to a user’s Facebook account is ever-growing, and disburses up to USD 4 million of loans per month. While we do not have statistics about how other loan apps are performing, the general assumption is that they are doing well.
Shika, a new loan app in town, wants a share of this lucrative segment. The app is already live in Google Play. You will notice that it is still under development, which means it will crash once in a while. However, it is fully functional and delivers on its promise.
Based on its name, it can be deduced that the app targets Kenya and the larger Swahili-speaking East African region. Its owners describe it as ‘mobile app that enables you to get FAST credit whenever you need it in less than 30 SECONDS! Once you sign up, your loan will be processed straight to your M-PESA within a matter of seconds.’
Signing up is similar to other loan apps. You are required to give your name and national ID number. Afterward, you set up a pin and you are ready to go. The app does not use your Facebook data like Branch or MkopoKaka. Rather, it has an inbuilt search engine that goes through your M-PESA messages to determine if you are eligible for a loan. If you are a perennial defaulter like yours truly, you are out of luck. However, I still have my text messages and a couple of other loan apps on my device. Some loans from competing services have not been repaid, so I may have been shown the door for this reason. On the other hand, if you move a lot of money using M-PESA, then you are Shika’s wet dream.
Furthermore, Shika promises that its search engine continually assesses that and will notify once you qualify for a loan, meaning there is hope for people like me.
Another notable thing I have observed about their service is that they reply to queries via email in a timely manner. I mean, who does that? That aside, this is the first loan app that adopts modern app design elements. It is unapologetically simple, and only has four buttons (request loan, repay loan, recent activity and a share option) and a floating action button for settings, FAQs and logging out. Neat.
To recap, the app still in alpha, so you may experience some issues. For example, it crashes if left idling for a few seconds. We hope such issues will be ironed out in coming days.
Shika offers loans from KES 500 to KES 20,000, and only Safaricom subscribers can get access to the service. Of course, users will need to furnish loans with a flat 15 percent interest for any amount approved. Also, repayment is limited to a month, else you get a 10 percent penalty for the amount owed. If you ghost for more than 60 days, Shika will forward your name to CBR just to instill some financial discipline in you.