Category Archives: SME solutions

Barclays Timiza launched

On Friday, Barclays unveiled Timiza, its virtual banking strategy to extend its growth and services to the mobile space.

It comes after two other banks CBA (through M-Shwari) and KCB have also extended virtual services over Safaricom and M-Pesa to reach millions more digital customers and borrowers.

Timiza is immediately available to all M-Pesa customers (they are 27.8 million) who are either Barclays customers and non-customers. Timiza has a simple registration by dialing *848# or downloading the app from the google store and entering a national ID and phone number and within minutes of creating a new password, one can see their credit limit and start borrowing. The minimum loan amount is Kshs 50, and maximum Kshs 1 million, though it’s really up to 150,000 (~$1,500) depending on one’s credit rating and funds are immediately sent to one’s Timiza wallet (not M-pesa). For demonstration, a loan of Kshs 1,000 (~$10) for 30 days attracts a fee of 1.17% plus a facility fee of 5%, for a repayment of Kshs 1061.67

Besides being an easy and low-interest loan avenue, Timiza also offers a simple current account, savings account, fixed deposit account (term deposits of 1, 3, 6, 12 months – minimum Kshs 1,000. no top-up), group savings accounts, and channels for utility payments. One can also purchase insurance (a whole life cover policy) in the app.

A few months ago when M-Shwari was marking five years since its launch, CBA announced they would have variable pricing for good-repayers and a rebate on fees for people who paid loans within 10 days. These have not been done, but there are hints of such revisions in Timiza

Other Timiza Notes

The Timiza T&C‘s mostly relate to the use of personal information and clauses on resolving disputed. But they also have some interesting things:

  • There are no fees for transfers between Timiza and M-pesa
  • Barclays may suspend a Timiza account and credit if they discover it is being used for fraud or illegal activities, and they may also suspend them if they become aware that a customer is defaulting on other loans.
  • Unique from M-Shwari in that the loans can be rolled-over, and there will be a “roll-over” fee levied. However, the staff at Barclays branches have no authority to alter Timiza agreements. 
  • Timiza users will be eligible  for store finance at Barclays-selected merchants
  • One can select the period for repayment of a loan when applying for a loan  – maximum of 30 days

Barclays has 88 branches which are located in 38 of Kenya’s 47 counties and says they are responding to their customers preference for more mobile and internet banking channels. Barclays targets to get 5 million new customers in the next five years.

$1=Kshs 101

EAVCA: Fintrek explores Fintech opportunities in East Africa

This week, the East Africa Venture Capital Association (EAVCA) with Intellecap Advisory Services released the Fintrek – which explores fintech opportunities in East Africa, new frontiers in fintech (defined as firms using technology to deliver financial products/services or capabilities to customers or others firms) and fintech investments in East Africa.

Asia Pacific and Africa have been harbingers of mobile payments and that is transitioning into fintech now. The Fintrek report notes three underlying factors driving fintech uptake as:

  • (i) the use of alternative data to generate credit takings of the unbanked (and deliver services to them cheaply e.g no need for bank branches),
  • (ii) peer to peer networks (decentralized collaboration, payments across borders, unregulated) and
  • (iii) the emergence of nontraditional players (telcos, wallets like Google Pay & Apple Pay, e-retailers like Amazon)

smartphones offer fintech opportunities.

Regionally, Kenya is seen as a leader in the region owing to its levels of deposit penetration, deep financial sector penetration, and smartphone ownership (at 44% compared to less than 10% for Tanzania Uganda Rwanda and Ethiopia). Kenya is where most fintechs are setting up, and Kenya-based fintechs have raised $204 million between 2000 and 2017 which is 98% of the funding to the region.

Funding: In terms of funding, fintechs are still in early stages as seen in the small deal sizes: seed funding provided 47 deals (averaging $447,000) and 60% of all funding was to impact areas renewable energy/off grid lighting and health care (microinsurance). Five companies M-KOPA, Off-Grid Electric, SunFunder, Angaza, Azuri) have raised $345 million (through debt and equity) accounting for 55% of the funding between 2010 and 2017. Another finding was that while 53% of all funding between 2010 and 2017 was from venture capital funds, their average deal size  ($6 million – e.g. from Apis, Madison Dearborn)  is lower than those of corporates ($15 million – e.g. from Stanbic, Commercial Bank of Africa) and foundations ($10 million – e.g. from Calvert, Emerson, Omidyar Network) deals.

Fintechs needs a balance of debt and equity investments to grow, but they are struggling to get debt financing (mainly bank loans). Fintechs in East Africa had debt-equity ratios of 1:1 compared to 3:1 globally, indicating they have capacity to absorb more debt but are not doing it. The EAVCA report cites one of the funding challenges as investors want proof of traction while fintechs need working capital to demonstrate proof of concept, lack of funder knowledge about local markets, East Africa fintechs don’t look like what foreign investors expect, currency fluctuations make it had to raise debt and there is a lack of fundraising skill among local fintechs who can’t afford the teams that will enable them to raise money.

The Fintrek report identified 11 fintech opportunities models and 47 sub-models and identified 4 sub-models that have flourished in East Africa:

Payments and Savings: digital wallets (M-Pesa, Alipay, Tigo pesa – which pays 7-9% interest and now attract high-end users), payment intermediaries (Cellulant, Direct Pay, Jambopay) and digital currencies (Bitpesa, Coinbase, Belfrics – a crypto-currency platform).

Lending: direct lending (Branch, Tala – with 1.8M customers in Kenya, Kreditech, Umati capital), P2P lending (Lendable, Pezesha – has 6,000 borrowers & 200 lenders), and lending aggregators (lakompare). Also, there is telco-based nano lending (M-Shwari, KCB-M-Pesa, Equitel – which issued $57 billion worth of loans – and telco-bank lenders in Kenya account for over 76% of total loan accounts, but only 4% of the loan values)

Financial Management: Insuretech (Bimaspace, BimaAfya, Microensure), Investech (Abacus, Xeno) and personal finance management – (Chamasoft, Caytree).

FS Enablers: (Jumo – credit underwriting for 5 million customers and 20 million loans), Arifu, FirstAccess, NetGuardian – fraud identifier), FarmDrive, Sasa solutions, Lendddo).

Some recent fintech deals in East Africa include Farmdrive (from the Safaricom Spark Fund), Pezesha (DFS lab), Pula (DFS lab, CGAP), M-Kopa ($80M – Stanbic, CDC, FMO, Norfund), Tala ($30M – IVP), Jumo ($24M – Finnfund), Mobisol ($12M – FinnFund), Angaza ($10.5M – Emerson), Flutterwave ($10M – Greycroft), Netguardian ($8.5M – Freemont), Trine ($8M – Gullspang), Lendable ($6M – Kawisafi, Omidyar, Fenway), Direct Pay ($5M – Apis), Azuri ($5M – Standard Chartered), Bitpesa ($4.25M – Greycroft), Branch ($2M – from high-networth Kenyans and funds – arranged by Nabo Capital)

Production of the Fintrek report was supported by Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Africa and Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO).

See more of the EAVCA Fintrek report and other fintech opportunities at the 5th Sankalp Africa Summit on March 1-2, 2018 in Nairobi and see their private equity snapshot report.


Fintech Companies to Watch and Influencers in 2018

Companies: Last November, KPMG and H2 Ventures released a report listing their fourth annual fintech innovators (‘Fintech100’)  comprising 50 established companies and 50 emerging companies to watch in Fintech.  The companies are innovation across sector like banking, payments, remittances, spending, artificial intelligence, data management, and insurance.
They noted that China continues to dominate the fintech landscape, with 5 of the top 10 companies on the list. Digital or new banks in the list include Solaris Bank, Nu Bank, and Atom Bank.
Some notable companies on the list;
  • ZhongAn (online property insurance)
  • Stripe (frictionless financial transactions)
  • OurCrowd provides an equity crowdfunding platform for accredited investors to access and invest in Israeli companies)
  • Circle (free international remittance via email)
  • Xapo allows users to utilize their bitcoins while Xapo safely stores them)
  • Future Finance (gives students loans of 2,000 to 40,000 pound,  within 24 hours that can be paid over 5 years)
  • Coinbase (enables digital currency transactions)
  • AfterPay Touch (from Australia gives online shopping users an option to spread purchases across four equal installments)
  • Robinhood (free stock trading of US stock and ETF’s)
  • Alan (Europe’s  first digital health insurance company)
  • Bud (enables users to combine bank accounts and get personalised insights from a single source)
  • Capital Float (from India provides collateral-free working capital loans to small businesses within 3 days)
  • Cuvva (provides short-term,  flexible car insurance to consumer groups, including taxi- drivers that range from 1 hour to 28 days)
  • Flutterwave (from Nigeria, is in over 36 African countries, enables individuals and businesses to accept online and offline payments)
  • GrassRoots Bima (from Kenya matches customers with micro-insurance products – known as WazInsure)
  • KredX (from India matches SMEs seeking working capital with investors looking for above-average yield on short-term investments)
  • Leveris (banking platform for digital retail banks)
  • Riby (Nigeria cooperatives enabler)
  • Sensibill (allows bank customers to get their receipts in a few different ways)
  • SoCash (addresses cash logistics issues for banks)
  • Token (an API banking platform)
  • Valiant Finance (an online broking platform for SME’s) 
Influencers: Also, Jay Palter has a list of 195 fintech influencers for the year 2018; have only heard of a few – Brett King (who visited and spoke in Nairobi in January 2017), Yann Ranchere, Elon Musk and Vinod Khosla, but will check out the rest.
Also,  the new CB Insights report on fintech observations and trends to watch in 2018 cites:
  • No billion-dollar fintech M&A in 2017
  • Chinese firms drove fintech IPOs in 2017
  • Europe saw record for fintech investing in 2017, as Asia and the US saw fintech funding recede
  • Amazon gets more aggressive in fintech — outside of the US, but Amazon’s US efforts are a far cry from Tencent and Ant Financial’s global fintech forays in China
  • The largest deals in 2017 went to companies providing insurance…
  • Startups are allowing Chinese investors to access overseas securities and In 2017, Ant Financial’s Yu’e Bao became the largest money market fund in the world
  • Banks forgo partnering in favor of fighting fintech with fintech 

Entrepreneurs get support from UBA Foundation and Kenya’s Youth Fund

The UBA Foundation and the Youth Enterprise Development Fund in Kenya have signed a partnership to support Kenyan entrepreneurs who participate in the fourth cycle of the Tony Elumelu Foundation entrepreneurship development program.

The UBA Foundation is the CSR arm of the UBA Group, a pan-African bank that is in 19 countries. It focuses on economic empowerment, education, and the environment, while the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship program is a flagship of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) . The program is an investment of $100 million that aims to nurture 10,000 African startups to create 1 million jobs and generate $10 billion in revenue growth over ten years. This will be through funding, training, mentorship, counseling and networking for the startups to trade across Africa and beyond.

Entrepreneurs apply to the TEF and Youth Fund.

The CEO of the Youth Fund Josiah Moriasi said the organization had advanced Kshs 12.2 billion to 1.4 million Kenyans through their core products such as LPO financing, talanta loans (for creatives), and startup loans. Ronald Osumba, Chairman of the Youth Fund, said that while the Fund had been in the news for some wrong reasons, it had also supported many young successful people,  not just with finance, but also business support, market linkages, and business spaces.  They were also working to reduce the failure rate of startups through market aggregation models in counties around the country.

This year the TEF program is already seeing a record number of entries from 54 countries since the window for applications opened on January 1.   It runs up to March 1, 2018, for applicants to submit their startups or business ideas and the selected entrepreneurs  will participate in the 2018 cycle that runs from May 1 to December 2018. 

The Tony Elumelu Foundation program has 3,000 alumni now, and over 200 Kenyans have benefited from the program, each having received $5,000 (~Kshs 500,000) as seed capital for their businesses which they have then used to scale and grow into other product and service lines. This year, UBA Kenya officials hope to enroll more Kenyan in the program as the country has run a distant second to Nigeria in past applications and enrollment.

The application process is rigorous but it pays off. TEF entrepreneurs get twelve weeks of training, mentorship, $5,000 of seed capital and access to the alumni network and further funding opportunities.  Kenyan entrepreneurs who complete the application to the TEF site can also apply to the Youth Fund for another $5,000 in matched funding.

Makueni County Healthcare

The Makueni County government is this week conducting new registration for a universal healthcare program in the 60 sub-wards in the county.  The Makueni University Healthcare program will provide essential health services to county residents at eight sub-county hospitals, and the county referral hospital.

It is being lauded and Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana who previously battled with the county assembly (parliament) that he was elected alongside in 2013, now appears to be enjoying a resurgence after his re-election on August 8 which he easily won, while 29 of the 30 county assembly legislators (MCA’s) were voted out.

The MCA’s had tried to impeach the Governor and he subsequently moved to dissolve the entire county government. A commission on inquiry looked into the disputes at Makueni and made some recommendations to the President, but as he never forwarded the report to the Senate for debate and approval, the situation was never fully resolved, until the 2017 election.

In promoting the Makueni health care program, the county government states the high level of poverty (60%) in the region as a reason why they set out to provide free health care to senior citizens (above 65 years of age) in the county through a pilot program in 2016. They deemed it a success and decided to expand it to universal health care and they have already enrolled another 33,344 households, excluding the senior citizens. The ongoing registration aims to net 180,000 new households and the benefits of the program will be improved health care with no out-of-pocket expenses for households which have previously resorted to selling livestock or land to meet family medical expenses. During the test phases, Kshs 138 million was expensed, with the bulk of that going to pharmacy expenses (33%), then inpatient (24%) and laboratory (15%) expenses.

The Makueni program will pay for emergency healthcare, laboratory, radiology, theater, cancer screening, drugs, and ambulance evacuation, among other expenses. The cost is Kshs 500 per year for a household and that will cover a nuclear family – beneficiary, spouse(s) and dependents of school going age. It is separate from the government’s national hospital insurance fund (NHIF), and Makueni will not cover services outside the county, such as scans, MRI’s, post-mortems, ICU, dialysis, and other specialized services not available within the county.

The ambitious and novel Makueni program is similar to one in Muranga county that sought to mobilize savings for county investments, but which was scuttled by regulators and wary investors.

The latest Auditor General (OAG) reports on Makueni noted that the county government received (2015) revenue of Kshs 6.3 billion (that included Kshs 5.9 billion from the national government) and that Kshs 5.4 billion was spent, leaving a Kshs 0.9 billion surplus. The OAG noted the disruption of the government activities but gave an adverse opinion on the Makueni county assembly (legislators) accounts while those of the county government (executive) were qualified. The executive was flagged for operating bank accounts at banks other than the Central Bank, and also for issues with the procurement of assets and construction of dams. The report on the assembly noted issues with lack of supporting documentation, hiring of professionals, including lawyers in the case against the governor, and trips that Makueni MCA’s had made to Mauritius, Boston, London, Malaysia Dubai and Singapore.