Category Archives: bank charges

Do Kenyans Have More Financial Access than Americans?

This week, FSD Kenya released  Financial Access 2016, their fourth report, after others in 2006, 2009 and 2013. This year is the 10th anniversary of FSD Kenya, and much has changed since the first survey was done back in 2006 which showed that 40% of Kenyans were excluded from financial services.  The Financial Access report will now be done annually, and will feature in the national statical publication – the Kenya Economic Survey, from April  2016 onwards.

Central Bank Deputy Governor, Sheila M’Mbijjewe, said that she was happy that the report drilled down into trying to understand the differences in financial access and usage between men and women, and between rural and urban residents, but that the government would now like to see more from mobile money in terms of quality of financial products and impact, as access and usage are no longer enough.

Image by 'Joshua Wanyama ('')

She also said that the study’s finding that 75% of Kenyans have financial services access, was higher than the USA figure of 67%. Another important finding was that, while cash remains king as a payment option for a majority of the population, 59% of Kenyans now have more than one way of paying for things – compared to 18% in the first survey.

Points to Consider before Switching Bank Accounts

This was inspired by a query from ‏@KaranjaJ on if there Is there a .Ke bank that delivers on its promise or is their verbal communication a load of B.S

1. Find a bank you’re comfortable with. You should not be unhappy with your bank.

2. If you outgrow the bank you’re with, move on. You may have been a customer for years, but your needs have changed, and these days it may not be as smooth as it once was. Maybe the bank ownership changed or the relationship managers you had moved on leaving you with without the friendly familiar service you enjoyed.

3. Don’t believe all promises advertised by a new bank product in a brochure. They are only telling you the good side.

4. Keep your old bank account for a while and only close it when you’re happy with the new one. Some customers find that the new bank is charging them for services they were getting for free at their previous one.

5. Negotiate with your current bank. They may waive some charges or make some changes, if you ask.

6 No one and no bank is perfect. Each bank has some positive’s, and also some negative’s.

7. The people who sell the product, are not the ones who will service it. When shopping for a new bank or product be wary if the person selling it is an agent on commission, not an employee of the bank. What they promise may not be delivered as you understand it.

8. Ask about all charges for the new service – Joining fees, admin/maintenance fees e.g. there may be an upfront 5% on your investment which is taken out before you account is event credited, and if that happened every year, you will not grow your investment much.

9. This is the era of mobile & internet. You should be able to view and query your accounts online – and this should be at no cost (it’s always cheaper for the bank to give you some account access, than you having to go to the branch to ask for a statement)

10. Read the fine print before you sign. You may be desperate, but take a few minutes to query some clauses, and it it’s a loan or investor agreement, ask to read it overnight, and get some legal advice.

Kenya’s best & worst loans & mortgages

The interest rate is only one component of a loan and last week the Central Bank raised  its’ base rates which should lead to more expensive loans for borrowers in the coming weeks.

Now, Jijini Markets have released their latest monthly report on they call the best and worst bank loans and mortgages in which they rank consumer loans, business loans, asset finance and mortgages by the interest rates that various banks are charging.

Jijini finance comparisons

Jijini Markets is a new site I stumbled on that compares Kenya financial products.

Jijini Markets screenshot

Jijini Markets screenshot

The rates are quite good and up to date E.g. just compared the ones for 3-month fixed deposits at various banks. Here’s hoping they expand their product range into other areas like telephone rates, credit cards, mortgages and enable loan rate comparisons at different banks using APR.



M-Pesa across Borders

Today brought an announcement that Safaricom’s M-Pesa customers in Kenya would now be able to send and receive payments with mobile money customers of Vodacom in Tanzania – enabling true cross border payments to take place between mobile companies in the two countries.

A sample transaction today shows how it works:


  • The (mean) Central bank rate today was 1 Kshs = TZS 20.17
  • M-pesa transfer cost in Kenya for Kshs 100 to 500 is Kshs 11 to a registered customer versus Kshs 44 to an unregistered customer.
  • Initial theory that the charged would be for unregistered were proved to be wrong in an experiment

Sending Mpesa from Kenya to Tanzania

  • Sent Kshs 300
  • Charge Kshs 11 (about 4%)
  • Exchange rate 20.17Kenya Tanzania Mpesa
  • Recipient got Tzs 5,757

Sending Mpesa from Tanzania to Kenya

  • Sent Tzs 5,000
  • Charge (assume 4%) Tzs 200
  • Exchange rate 20.17
  • Recipient gets Kshs 236

The transactions takes a few minutes to effect, but they actually work and it seems, for now, that there’s very little margin being made on the exchange rate, while the remittance / transaction charges are in line with in-country transactions.

This comes a few weeks after Tanzania enabled cross network mobile payments, which were endorsed by their main mobile money companies – Tigo (Milicom), Airtel, Zantel and Vodacom.