Mobile loan apps, payment gateways and other financial services that take advantage of mobile money services and deeper smartphone penetration have blown up in the Kenyan market in the last few years. The space is still open for players that have unique products for consumers, which is what Barclays Bank believes has for Kenyans with the latest addition of its product portfolio that went live earlier today.
Dubbed Timiza (Kiswahili word that loosely translates to ‘accomplish’), Barclays’s new app is securing a space in an otherwise crowded, yet lucrative niche that has is traditionally linked to the likes of Branch, Tala, and lately, Opera’s OKash.
Primarily, the app will give users a platform to access instant loans, in addition to bill payments and insurance cover. The last two propositions are the first of their kind for a platform that is known for loans. What is more, users can deposit and save money on Timiza.
The app is only available on Android’s Google Play for obvious reasons. A future rollout to iOS users is expected as the bank strives to dispel the misconception that it appeals to a senior and well-off demographic. Another restriction is only Safaricom users will be able to get access to loans via M-PESA, which, unfortunately, goes in line with competing products. Timiza is also available on USSD *848# on Safaricom lines.
Timiza is developed by Craft Silicon, the company that is behind e-taxi service, Little. The partnership will allow users to pay for rides using Timiza, which marks another unique feature of the app.
Back to the main service: instant loans. To begin with, the app is not restricted to people who have an account with Barclays bank, although it is possible to link an existing account to the service. Secondly, loan qualification takes on the same approach we have seen in other products, where complex algorithms check for eligibility based on credit records (that are linked to your Safaricom line) including text messages and a good rapport with the CRB.
The bank’s Managing Director Mr. Jeremy Awori insists on customer privacy, which is why the service will only access certain data upon confirmation. He also mentioned that the bank has a dedicated SME banking platform to meet the needs of businesses that have not gone corporate as far as banking is concerned.
Those who qualify for a loan will be charged a 5% processing fee and monthly interest of 1.7%. In total, users will pay 106.7% of the cash borrowed. The window for repayment is 30 days. The Bank did not mention flexibility based on repayment agreements as some customers repay intermittently over a specified period. The maximum loan amount is KES 150,000.
At the moment, the app is available in Kenya, with an expected Africa-wide rollout in the coming days.