Category Archives: credit reference in Kenya

Credit Scoring the Informal Worker

Documenting the informal economy has been a challenge, the importance of which is increasingly being seen in recent banking, real estate, consumption and other economic statistics that, thanks to data from Telco’s about m-pesa and other money transfer systems, shows up as a grey ocean of money flowing (daily) through the economy that amounts to a significant fraction of Kenya’s GDP.
But how about the users who are moving this money? Can they derive creditworthiness value from this information that is being captured? i.e. These are the self-employed workers, and people without payslips or steady banking habits, but who have some scanty history with banks, savings societies, church groups, or utility companies. 
But now with services such as SelfCare from Safaricom, one can see three months of M-Pesa transactions – and in the last three months, funding a project outside Nairobi, I’ve deposited about $3400, sent about  $2800, withdrawn $200, received $150, and bought $100 of airtime.

All that should qualify for more than a Khs 2,000 ($25) instant loan from Safaricom/CBA’s, M-Shwari, but since it’s a new system, it may be too early to determine the creditworthiness of a borrower, using their  M-Pesa history alone. Selfcare could, with time, become more useful, allowing users to export or print statements,  older than three months, and other financial institutions to access & review the data  – and with that, a hawker, taxi driver, or other self-employed worker, without a formal banking history could generate a decent, mature,  credit position to discuss with a new bank. 

Kenya’s Top Banks

as at June 2010

Bank Assets Pre-Tax-Profit
1. Barclays Kshs 173 billion ($2.16 billion), profit of Kshs 4.75 billion ($59.3 million)
2. KCB assets of Kshs 207 billion ($2.59 billion), profits of Kshs 4.34 billion ($54 million)
3. Equity 117,578 4,282
4. Standard Chartered 131,348 4,037
5. Cooperative 133,322 2,848
6. Diamond Trust 54,109 1,508
7. Citibank Kenya 63,812 1,499
8. Commercial Bank of Africa 60,229 1,465
9 Investment & Mortgages 56,630 1,239
10. National Bank of Kenya assets of 59,390 million ($742 million) and profits of Kshs 1,200 ($15 million) – then CFCStanbic (falling out of the top 10), NIC, Baroda, Imperial, and Bank of India.

Notes– KCB is the largest bank (and group) but is less profitable than Barclays which is the most profitable bank
– Equity may be the most profitable bank by next year: Five years ago (2006) they had 1/6 (Kshs 500m) of Barclays profits (Kshs 3 billion), now mid-way into 2010, they are the country’s 5th largest in assets, and 3rd in profits – and are about 7X large by both measures compared to five years ago, while KCB is 1.5X larger and Barclays is 0.5X larger than it was in 2006.
– Equity is perceived better in market terms than KCB though its half its size and has the same profits this year.

Changes since last year
– Credit sharing between banks is now being enforced
– Anti-money laundering law now in effect
– The Government of Kenya has set out to raise Kshs 31 billion ($388 million for infrastructure projects; Kenyan banks currently have almost half as much money invested in government securities as they do with loans to customers
– The new constitution passed this month means we will have currency without the face of a president (virtually all existing currency bear the portraits of Kenya’s past presidents)

– Equity and several other Kenyan banks have decided to embrace and work with M-Pesa and other mobile money channels instead of fighting them
– Micro-finance institutions (MFI’s) are stepping up into the commercial banking sphere

Incoming banks (all of which have micro-finance origins)
– Faulu Kenya
– Jamii Bora (formerly City Finance)

Gone banks
– Southern Credit (bought by Equatorial)
– S&L (absorbed into KCB)

Data Collected but Not Processed

So much data is being collected from Kenya citizens these days at various points of transactions by citizens. This is largely in the form of being asked to produce more and more documents to authenticate/verify information that some of the organizations already know or have in their archives – these include:

– Last week (June 30) marked the tax filing deadline Kenyans who rushed to the revenue authority offices and returned forms, while some even managed to file online
– Government workers & civil servants have been filing their annual income and asset returns for about six years now in a wealth declaration exercise – but the forms are just filed away, and for some who participate such as members of parliament, the rules stipulate that no one can look at their forms ever!
– Mobile phone companies have began to comply with a directive (not a law) that asks mobile phone subscribers to register and verify their data in a bid to crack down on terrorism, money laundering, hate crimes etc. A lot of this information’s is already in the hands of the companies e.g. with Safaricom, post-paid subscribers, M-pesa users and any shareholder who registered for dividends by m-pesa last year has already given all of this information – and Safaricom have now issued a statement that m-pesa and post-pay customers won’t have to re-submit their information. Kahenya views the mobile phone registration exercise as being for national security to build a database on citizens that they can tap into if/when they choose to scrutinize.
– From July this year, it has been mandated that there will be Kenya banks share information in a program to improve the assessment of borrowers capability to repay loans and which is hoped will lower the cost of credit (to good re-payers) and amount of bad debts at banks (by filtering out bad re-payers)
– Some banks have changed, others have not. Some like Barclays ask you to bring in a passport photo to open an account, while others like Equity snap your digital picture in their banking hall after you fill out the forms. Still in a single bank you may have an account, but to open another savings or credit card account, you may be asked to produce photocopy of ID, passport photo, and your bank statement
– My problems with custody registrar services who are one of the largest collectors of photocopies of documents, continues to this day; and CRS appear to have been vindicated by the Kenyan stockbrokers fraternity who have endorsed the Kenya capital markets proceeds of crime and anti-money laundering efforts by way of obtaining as much information as they can to ascertain a customers risk profile, nature of business, sources of funds and they are also to report any transactions greater than $10,000 (~Kshs 800,000)

A lot of the information is in paper photocopy form, and in application forms which thousands of people fill out without reading the fine print of what the information can be used for e.g. Safaricom m-pesa dividend mobile phone dividend payment form explicitly stated

Safaricom recognizes the importance of protecting privacy (3.1)… Safaricom collects personal information that we use to profile m-pesa users (3.2) and administer accounts …Safaricom does not share your information with unauthorized persons (3.3)…and you expressly consent and authorize Safaricom to disclose data relating to your dividends to (among others) Kenya police, central bank of Kenya, Kenya anti corruption commission, the central depository & settlement corporation (11.2)

So there is a massive amount of information being collected, but is it being processed? No and Yes. No because it may at most be at most scrutinized at the point of receipt/approval (mainly only in the case of banks) and then filed away to only be retrieved if an account goes bad.

This time around: Kenya Stockbroker collapse, Report leaks, Credit Reference Live

Time for another this time around post which looks at stories that recur in the business environment

Mars Group Kenya: The an anti-corruption watchdog group is the wikileaks for Kenya, re-publishing hitherto top-secret government reports at their website.

Mars Group research and produce their own reports, but their archives contain a growing list of reports of corruption in Kenya that is worth checking out. This week they have reports done by PricewaterhouseCoopers for the government of Kenya on the collapse of Triton Oil Company and on the misuse of funds for Maize famine relief in 2008. Last month they also released the report on the sale of the Grand Regency hotel. The Triton report shows that:
– At Kenya pipeline company (KPC) the oil collateral agreement was poorly drafted and ambiguous. Also managers had great discretion, procedures were lax /there was inter-departmental conflict (oil was released without verification) and documentation was poor (since documents would get lost at KPC, financers would exchange documents then present them all to KPC at once)
– Triton was aggressive with financing and would arrange for shipment before they got financing. They were stuck at some point and KCB entered into a finance agreement for goods when the ship was already in Kenya
Bad banking Ecobank have no claim against KPC, while the Fortis claim against Triton is suspect. Also Glencore had stopped financing Triton in June 2008 as they were suspicious about KPC fuel stock claims
– KCB and other financiers did not cooperate with the PWC investigators
– The debt owed to KCB may be substantially lower than KCB claims and they have provided little information to assist in verification of the Triton debt.
– Kenya anti-corruption commission should investigate further staff named in the report

GoK Bond The Government of Kenya is going to raise Kshs 14.5 billion for infrastructure via a third infrastructure bond. How does that compare to a similar bond a year ago?
2009: Kshs 18 billion ($240 million), interest rate 12.5%, minimum bid Kshs 100,000 (~$1,250), maturity 8 years, principal repaid in 2015, 2017, 2021. Funds used for road, geothermal, water projects
2010: Kshs 14.5 billion ($188 million), interest rate 9.75% tax exempt, minimum Kshs 100,000, maturity 8 years, principal repaid in 2016, 2018. Funds used for water, sewer, irrigation, road, and geothermal projects

The 2009 bond was over-subscribed and the only notable difference in 2010 is the lower interest rate offered. The CBK has decided the high cost of loans offered by commercial banks and perhaps by offering the same banks a lower return on government bonds; they will offer more competitive borrowing rates to the public

Credit Reference: February has also seen the licensing of Kenya’s first credit reference bureau – CRB Africa by the bank regulator, the Central Bank of Kenya. Following this, commercial banks have apparently commenced sharing information with the agency. Some of the rules governing sharing of data were highlighted when the credit reference rules were gazetted almost two years ago. These include
– Bureaus may share info only with a customers’ permission (which happens when you sign for a loan)
– They may only share information for business decision making (evaluate credit prospects) and must keep track of all information they share
– Customers are entitled to one free report a year, and within 30 days of a negative referral.
– If a customer complains, and bureau not able to complete an investigation of disputed information within a month, information will be deleted as request by customer
So what information will they compile?
For individuals: Name Citizenship ID / PIN Postal/ Telephone Credit history (as reported) Court judgments (as reported) Referees
– For companies: Company registration details postal/physical/telephone Credit history (as reported), Court judgments (as reported), Guarantees

Stockbroker collapse: This month saw the placing of another stockbroker under statutory management – this time its Ngenye Kariuki Stockbrokers [Last year in March it was Discount stockbrokers that was placed under statutory management]

Despite strong defense from the Kenya Association of Stockbrokers & Investments Banks – KASIB who say the brokers problems were manageable and did not warrant the intervention of the authorities the broker was in a weak financial position.
A summary by Faida Investment Bank, based on the published un-audited results of Ngenye Kariuki showed this
Half year June 2008 versus 2009
June 08 income 35m, expenses, 21 million, pre-tax profit of 10 million
June 09 income 3 million, expenses 10, pre-tax loss of 11 million

Share capital of 50 million, capital reserves of 251 million (which many brokers draw from the sale price in 2006 of Francis Thuo stockbrokers) [and the same amount appears as an intangible asset) at June 2009, the broker had an overdraft position of 63 million and receivable of 127 million which KASIB is laying at the feet of Citibank for withholding funds from the 2008 Safaricom IPO that are owed to several stockbrokers.

Old Mutual, Credit Reference, Insular TZ

Old mutual loosens up: Old Mutual , the pioneer of unit trusts in Kenya has made some radical changes to it contractual savings plans to cope with a changing market place with many unit trust choices from a competitive fund and insurance industry. Changes include;
– Plans will no longer lapse if premium payments are stopped. E.g. when people get retrenched
– Savings (in a lapsed plan) will remain invested until maturity or can be paid out early
– If your saving plan was terminated without a payout, consider it reinstated!

Credit reference rules: Former finance minister Amos Kimunya was able to gazette the rules for operations of credit reference bureaus in Kenya before he left office. Provisions include;
– Bureaus will be licensed by the central bank
– Signup costs are 100,000 shillings ($1,500), a bank guarantee for 1 million and another fee of 100,000 per year
– Bureaus may share info only with a customers’ permission (which happens when you sign for a loan)
– They may only share information for business decision making (evaluate credit prospects)
– Bureaus must keep track of all information they share
– Customers are entitled to one free report a year, and within 30 days of a negative referral
if a customer complains, and bureau not able to complete an investigation of disputed information within a month, information will be deleted as request by customer

Undugu at work: More Tanzanian IPO news with the upcoming sale of 21% of the Tanzanian Government shares of the National Microfinance Bank (NMB) to raise 63 billion shillings ($54 million) and later to be listed on the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange. But the offer is open to to individual Tanzanians and companies that are whole owned by Tanzanians – unlike Stanbic (Ug) and Safaricom (Ke) (which Tanzanians were also barred from subscribing to)