10 Ways to Identify Fake Loan Apps in Kenya

The debate on whether loan apps in Kenya are helpful or enslaving continues. In fact, some people have termed loan apps as modern-day shylocks.

The arguments do not matter much to those facing financial constraints. Most people borrow to meet their basic needs that their income cannot meet.

Recent reports from different groups including the Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Digital and Lenders Association of Kenya (DLAK) warn Kenyans of rogue apps.

Are you using a fake loan app? Read on…

Statistics

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in association with the government and the FSD conducted a study on mobile lenders. The team produced the Digital Credit Audit report.

The study showed that by September 2018, the two main app stores, Google PlayStore and Apple’s App Store had 110 mobile loan apps.

According to the findings, 74 unique app developers had developed money lending apps.

By April 2019, 65 out of the 110 apps were no longer listed on the app stores.  Instead, 43 new developers joined the stores and introduced 43 new apps.

The changes within just a few months raise many red flags.

The team found out that most of the digital lenders are neither SACCOs nor banks. The lenders are not accredited to any financial institution.

This means that if you save with the lender, your savings are not secured in any way. In addition, such lenders are not insured.

If established banks go down, what do you think of unregulated digital lenders?

If more than half of loan apps are pulled down in just 7 months, why should you consider borrowing money from loans apps in Kenya?

Ways to identify fake loan apps

If your income can meet your bills and emergencies, you may not think of a loan. Again if you can access an unsecured loan from a local bank, an instant loan may never cross your mind.

Unfortunately, this is not the case for millions of Kenyans. Many depend on loans to survive.

Banks have also turned to online lending after the stringent rules that the Banking Amendment Act 2016 introduced.

Hence, if you don’t land in the hands of private digital lenders, you will end up in Mshwari, KCB-Mpesa loan, Stawi loan app, Kopa Chapaa by Faulu, Timiza from Barclays, Eazzy loan from Equity or Co-op Cash.

You may not qualify for a loan from these apps. Your alternative is private or international lenders like Tala, Zenka, Branch, or Saida.

New names have also in the Kenyan market such as Berry Loan App, KopaKash, Okash, Tumiwa, Uwezo Kash and Pezesha among others.

How can you tell if you are just about to borrow money from a rogue digital lender?

1. High registration fee

According to the Digital Credit Audit report, rogue lenders charge anywhere between Ksh.200 to 400 as registration fee.

Of course, the lenders know by now that borrowers are looking for free apps. With the high number of apps in the stores, coming clean with the registration fee is not an option.

Look out for claims that the fee is for checking your CRB record or score. You will never see the evidence that they actually checked your score.

Actually, you may not have access to the app after sending your registration fee. Some begin malfunctioning immediately and deny a fresh registration with the same details.

2. Data access

Beware of the permissions you grant to any app including loan apps when installing. For instance, an app may request to read your exact GPS location, which is expected with loan apps.

However, why should you grant permission to your phone gallery or messages/SMS app? Some will not install until you grant access to your call logs or your device identity.

A genuine lender does not need such information. You never know how the app owners use such information in this age of cybercrimes.

Also Read: Top 5 Instant Loan Apps in Kenya

3. Mimicked names

We know about brands like Tala, Branch, Fuliza, and Coop Cash. As you search the app store, you will come across loan apps in Kenya with twisted names.

For instance, you may see Tala Kash, Fuliza Sasa, Tala Pewa Loans or Mkopo Branch Rahisi.

Such lenders target borrowers who are unaware of the right brand names of loan apps. Stay away from such apps.

4. Rewards or prizes for referrals

If you need to refer other borrowers to an app to gain points, rewards, or qualify for a higher amount, you are in the wrong hands.

Some fake apps will not even grant the first loan before you enlist other borrowers and earn enough points.

Your creditworthiness should be sufficient to qualify you for a loan from a genuine lender.

5. Minimal details asked

How easy is it to qualify for your first loan? Is the app promising a high amount even with a low credit score?

Lending online does not eliminate the need to verify the identity and creditworthiness of the borrower.

If the lender needs few personal details to issue loans, chances are they have obtained the information illegally. Else, the app may go down at any time after earning a high interest from you.

See Also: Safaricom’s Fuliza Wins a Prestigious Award Months after Launch

6. Fake physical address and contacts

Most borrowers do not bother to check the contacts and address of digital lenders until they run into trouble. Check this information first no matter how pressing your financial need is at all times.

If you cannot get through the phone numbers given at any time of the day, discontinue the service. A loan app should be accessible and functional 24/7 with a quick support team.

7. Negative reviews

Do not believe every promise that an online lender makes. Check other borrowers’ reviews on the app store.

If all you read are complaints, do not ignore and assume that your experience will be different. Check the lender’s response to the complaints as well.

8. Exorbitant interest rates

Even the best loan apps in Kenya charge higher interest rates than banks do. However, rogue apps go beyond the normal rates for apps.

Compare the interest rates from established brands first to determine the prevailing interest rate.

9. Sudden changes in terms

Have you ever used app, qualified for a certain amount but your limit went down after payment? Loan apps promise to increase your limit when you pay in full and on time.

If the terms change suddenly, you are probably dealing with crooks who cannot sustain their business.

They come up with excuses for penalizing defaulters or changing loan limits even with evidence of previous communication.

10. Frequent breakdown 

Here is one more red flag for rogue loan apps. An app hangs when you are trying to request a loan or choose a longer repayment period.

The malfunction rarely comes before you repay for the first loan or send the mandatory registration fee.

If you can hardly complete a process without a dysfunction, you are most likely using a rogue app.

You will not miss the red flags if you do your homework. Do not take chances. Seek for information before you share your confidential data with unknown digital lenders

The Top 10 Apps in Kenya as Ranked by Leading App Developers

Everywhere you go you will find Kenyans busy on their smartphones. Mobile service providers have been responding to this trend with flexible and affordable data bundles. What are Kenyans staring at for hours every daily? The leading app developers in Kenya have ranked the most downloaded apps in the country.

1. Facebook

Facebook remains the most popular social platform around the world. Kenyans have maintained the same trend for several years now. The network continues to gain popularity even after other social networks have been introduced. Facebook provides an easy way to connect with family and friends. However, a good number of Kenyans are using the platform for business. In fact, some sell their products and services exclusively on Facebook and make a living out of it. The app makes it easier to follow up with conversations with clients and monitor orders.

2. Whatsapp Messenger

A new wave of free Whatsapp has hit the market for mobile services because of its popularity. Unlike the traditional text messages, Whatsapp allows users to share photos and videos easily. With free Whatsapp, Kenyans can now share endless videos or photos with their friends. The app has also come in handy when holding virtual meetings. Whatsapp groups enable teams to hold virtual meetings, which save time and costs of holding physical meetings. In addition, Kenyans are also using the app to share images of their products with clients and build relationships. Some companies opt to add their clients to a Whatsapp group to keep them updated on their products or services.

3. Instagram

Instagram is another popular social network that has retained a high rank in the Kenyan market. The app has many functions but is mostly used to share photos and short videos clips. You will find users advertising on the app, especially new music videos and product photos. Instagram is popular with the young generation that enjoys sharing their lives on social media. Young adults document the most important moments in their daily lives in photos and videos and upload them on Instagram for their followers.

4. Branch

The times of queuing in banks to borrow small amounts are long gone. Branch has come to the rescue of many Kenyans who run out of cash in the middle of the month. After downloading the app, users can borrow money and pay within days, weeks or a month. The owners of Branch use the customer’s data on previous mobile money transactions to determine the amount to lend. Users can increase their loan limit by repaying on time. App developers in Kenya get multiple requests to develop loan apps because of their popularity in the market.

5. Tala Kenya

Tala is an alternative loan app that equally popular in Kenya. It functions the same way as Branch but the interest rates and repayment plans are slightly different. The loan limits may be different on the two apps even if the providers use the same data to issue loans. Most Kenyans borrow loans from both apps at the same time or use the loan from one to repay the other. With the current economic challenges in the country, the popularity of loan apps is expected. The high unemployment rate has led to a high dependence on loans even for basic needs.

6. Google

Google has become the first resort for all problems. Searching for information on a mobile device is easier with the Google app. Google is still the most popular browser and installing the app gives mobile phone users a better experience. The popularity of the browsers opens a platform for companies to advertise their products. It is hard to use any app without ads popping up every few seconds. Kenyans also use Google to follow the latest news in the country and around the world.

7. Messenger

Facebook owners provide an alternative way of chatting on the platform. The Messenger app has transformed the way of communicating on Facebook. Many people spend a lot of time chatting other than going through their news feed. Messenger serves this category of Facebook users and provides a platform to interact without the interruption of new status updates. The app is also popular among business owners because of the instant notifications of new messages from clients.

8. Facebook Lite

The Facebook app uses a large part of the storage space in a mobile device and has a high data consumption rate. The constant updates on the newsfeed use lots of data, which is expensive. Kenyans opt for Facebook Lite, which is low in data consumption and lighter than the Facebook App. The interface has similar features at the Facebook App but graphics are slightly different. For Facebook users that are keen on data consumption, Facebook Lite is the perfect app.

9. Uber

Uber is a popular taxi service in different parts of the world. Its entrance to the Kenyan market transformed the transport industry, especially for the segment that uses taxis almost every day. Kenyans can get an affordable taxi ride via the Uber app. The app saves users the pain of walking around looking for a taxi and negotiating the cost. The cost varies with the time of the journey. Both the driver and rider can track the cost throughout the journey. At the destination, the rider uses the integrated payment method to pay for the ride.

10. Taxify

Taxify is an alternative taxi app that is considered as Uber’s top competitor in the Kenyan market. The two apps function in the same way but Taxify rides are slightly cheaper. Consequently, Taxify drivers earn lower commissions than Uber drivers. Despite the difference in earnings, Taxify is gaining popularity among taxi drivers. The good thing about the taxi apps is that drivers can switch on and off the network when unavailable to work.

The list of top apps in the country is not just a show of popularity but an indication of the needs in the market. You can use the list to come up with a new idea and actualize it with the help of top app developers in Kenya. Sometimes improving on an existing idea has better results than initiating a new product in the market. For instance, you can develop an alternative app to any of the listed apps with better and differentiated features.

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Online Shopping: What is the Connection?

November comes with much hype about Black Friday and crazy discounts from major retailers. You can hardly use the internet without ads popping up about it.

The ads come to your phone, email, and social media timelines. Retailers go a step further and advertise Black Friday sales on billboards and through media houses.

Where did these holidays begin and what is their connection with shopping?

The History Black Friday

The term “Black Friday” was first used to refer to a financial crisis. On September 24, 1869, the US gold market crashed.

Two financiers in Wall Street, Jim Fisk and Jay Gould caused the crash after purchasing gold in large amounts. The day of the crash was a Friday, which was referred to as Black Friday after that.

The term has also been associated with profit and loss accounts. In the US, retailers recorded their profits in black while losses were marked in red.

The story goes that throughout the year, the accounting books for most businesses were in red. However, the situation changed on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. Retailers would record a boost in sales on the Friday after such that their books changed from red to black.

People travel to be with their families on Thanksgiving. Family gatherings are partly associated with increased shopping.

Black Friday in Philadelphia

Philadelphia has a different story about Black Friday. In the 1950s, police officers throughout Philadelphia called the Friday after Thanksgiving “Black Friday.”

The city would host the Army-Navy football game, which attracted tourists from all over. It was hard to control the crowds and the chaos that came with it.

The officers had to deal with increased traffic jams. In addition, some people took advantage of the chaos and started shoplifting.

It was simply a chaotic Friday and police officers would hardly get time off. The term helped described their day after an exciting Thanksgiving evening.

Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday is the Monday after thanksgiving. The term was first introduced in 2005 and has slowly gained popularity.

Ellen Davis, a leader at the National Retail Federation (NRF) coined the term, which retailers and shoppers adopted quickly. The Federation had noted a trend in online sales on the Monday after Thanksgiving.

Online retailers experienced a significant increase in traffic and revenues. Davis first thought of calling it Black Monday but the term sounded too sad.

The Federation settled on Cyber Monday and issued a press release statement on the same. True to their expectations, the world took on the term fast.

Association with Online Shopping

The travel and social habits around Thanksgiving lead to increased to shopping before and after the holiday. Every holiday is associated with shopping as people gather to celebrate.

However, Black Friday and Cyber Monday come with the best deals and discounts from retailers. Entrepreneurs have used the holidays over the years to encourage shoppers to buy even more from their stores.

Today, the world has better access to the internet than when the holidays were first introduced. Hence, online stores record almost the same amount of traffic as physical stores.

In fact, Cyber Monday was coined after increased online sales. One myth about the increase is that most shoppers were home for the holidays.

Buyers have access to fast and secure internet at home where they can easily shop online. In addition, shopping online helps family members to surprise their loved ones with random gifts.

E-commerce today comes with the option of delivering gifts to the recipients’ location. Shopping together in a physical store limits the fun on exchanging gifts.

In the US, retailers record billions of dollars in sales from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday. The sales increase every year.

Tips for Kenyan Entrepreneurs

Kenyan businesses have been adopting the culture of offering crazy deals and discounts on Black Friday. Although the holidays are considered as “western” or white, retailers have made them popular locally with discounts.

The spread of e-commerce in Kenya has enabled entrepreneurs to increase online sales during these holidays. However, some stores are yet to catch up or maximise their sales during Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

If your store falls into this category, try these strategies in the coming year and taste the difference:

1. Prepare your online store

If you are reading this and operating without an online store, you are in the right place. Muva Technologies can design an amazing e-commerce website for your business. Your first step will be to create the website and promote it.

Gone are the days of relying on websites alone. Your business needs a mobile app as well. Many buyers are considering purchases via an app if the quality and pricing are consistent with the e-commerce website.

Again, we can help you develop an app that suits your business.

Ensure that your website is mobile-responsive and fast. Audit all pages to identify and clear any errors. Ensure that all listed items are in stock.

2. Start early

A new term has been coined after Black Friday, that is, Black November. Retailers are no longer waiting until the week of Thanksgiving to market their products and discounts.

The sales start at the beginning of November. Do the same. Prepare the deals and including the ads before November. Run the ads throughout the month on as many marketing platforms as you can.

3. Retarget

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are great opportunities to drive traffic to your online store. The holidays are already associated with a shopping craze as described above.

However, you will have hundreds of visitors to your online store that will not purchase anything. Many will browse your deals and not place any order while some will abandon their carts halfway.

You may have the same experience in the physical store. Some buyers may contact you about the deals without any purchases.

Follow up on all new contacts that you get during this season. Have retargeting marketing strategies to sell to them even after the deals are over. The buyers already know about your business and are likely to buy from you in the future.

Final remarks

Your success in driving sales on Thanksgiving, Black Friday, or Cyber Monday depends on the state of your online store. Allow expert developers at Muva to optimize your e-commerce website or create an e-commerce app for your brand. It is not too early to plan for the next holiday!

Samsung Galaxy Fold is finally in Kenya: Why Is Everyone Talking about it?

Do you remember the days of foldable phones? Well, they are back! Samsung broke the limits in manufacturing smartphones earlier this year with the folding design.

Samsung Galaxy Fold was released into the market in February 2019. It has taken several months for the device to reach the Kenyan market. However, the phone has been in use in other parts of the world since its launch with positive reviews.

The head of Samsung’s mobile division in East Africa, Charles Kimari was excited about the launch. At the event, Charles indicated that the device’s capabilities have never been seen in the history of smartphones.

The capabilities and price got everyone talking on social platforms. Here is what you need to know about the device.

Features and capabilities

The Infinity Flex Display of the smartphone is the first in the world. Of course, phone manufacturers will quickly replicate it but Samsung has set the pace.

You can expect cheaper brands with the same design in the coming years. It happens with every new trend in mobile technology. However, it will take the brands some time to catch up with the full capabilities and functions of the new phone.

Perhaps the ability to multi-task while using the folding smartphone will interest you. The Samsung Galaxy Fold is built with the capacity to support heavy tasks including video games.

Watching and sharing videos is fast because of its advanced performance. You know the frustration of waiting for a video to load and play? The new smartphone solves that for you!

In addition, you can run three apps at the same time with 12 GB RAM. It functions more like your PC. Samsung included a high powered AP chipset to help consumers do more.

Try opening 3 apps on your device and evaluate its performance. Most devices in the market stop functioning and prompt you to close all the apps.

The intelligence functionalities set the device apart from other Samsung innovations. Many phones are yet to come close to this level of production.

The Company added Bixby Routines, which enable the smartphone to anticipate your needs. In short, Samsung is enabling you to do more with your mobile device than call, text, and keep up with social media.

You can program your life with the smart device and use your time more efficiently.

The Routines streamlines your phone time to ensure that you do not forget important activities or spend too much time on one activity. Most phone users are guilty of spending too much time on social media chats.

A device with Bixby Routines reminds of specific actions based on the time, event or location. The smartphone adapts to your life and preferences.

The large 7.3-inch display is synonymous with the latest Samsung smartphones. It collapses when folded to a 4.6” display.

Folding the device reduces the resolution of the display as well. However, the resolution is still above many devices’ resolution in the market.

Get this, the Galaxy Fold has 6 cameras! Talk about pushing mobile phone technology to the next level! If you like keeping memories with photos, this phone is definitely worth your consideration.

Phone manufacturers have realised the importance of clear images and videos. In our world of selfies and social media, you need clear photos from all angles.

You are assured of clear shots with 6 cameras at your disposable.

Data Security

Data security has become such a big issue to the extent that Kenya introduced a new law for the same. The concern is not specific to the Kenyan market.

People around the world have become suspicious given the rise of malware that spy on smartphone users. You never know the information that an app accesses and shares from your smartphone.

Samsung thought of this concern among consumers. The Galaxy Fold is equipped with Samsung Knox to improve data performance and keep your information safe.

You can hardly avoid using your phone to shop with the popularity of mobile money transactions. Banking apps have us accessing our accounts from our smartphones.

Hackers target social apps as well through links that enable them to access data on your device.

Samsung Knox enables you to use your mobile device without worrying much about data security. Most of the latest Samsung smartphones come with the security platform.

However, manufacturers cannot give a 100% guarantee on data security. Even with such platforms as Samsung Knox, you still have to be careful of the data you share or upload on your device.

Price

We know you are looking for this part! Well, for most consumers, buying a smartphone boils down to its retail price.

The introductory price of the Samsung Galaxy Fold in Kenya was set above Ksh. 200,000! Too high?

While you are thinking about the price and your bank account balance, the phones sold out immediately after the launch!

The retail price overtook the folding design in most discussions after the launch. It seems some consumers have been waiting for the phone to hit the market since February.

Clearly, owning the folding Samsung is a luxury, just as it was with the first foldable phones back in the day.

The quick sales did not come easy. Samsung ran a campaign for about 2 weeks prior to the launch and it worked.

Samsung Galaxy Fold falls into the category of smartphones that require some consumers to take a loan to purchase. Charles did mention of a plan to provide financing in the future to enable consumers to purchase the device.

Such plans involve partnerships with local banks. Hence, you still have a chance to own the device if you cannot pay out of pocket. You just need to wait until Samsung keeps its promise of such partnerships.

Final thoughts

Samsung has set a new standard in the market that other brands will soon follow. The retail price may be high for many consumers but the quick sales show there is a demand for high-end smartphones in the Kenyan market. It also seems like the old saying is true. History repeats itself. The competition in the global market for smartphones is pushing manufacturers to break limits in design and capabilities.

Safaricom’s Fuliza Wins a Prestigious Award Months after Launch

Safaricom and Huawei won this year’s “The Business of Tomorrow” award at the AfricaCom event. The annual event is considered the largest of its kind in the continent. It brings together leading companies in the media, telecommunication, and technology sectors.

This year’s event was held in Cape Town from November 12-14. The trade fair doubles up as an opportunity for innovators to showcase their products. It is also an opportunity for business owners in the tech world to connect and build relationships.

In January 2019, Safaricom partnered with the Chinese tech company, Huawei to launch the Fuliza service. Fuliza is an overdraft service on the mobile money platform, Mpesa. Registered Mpesa customers can borrow money and complete transactions above their account balances.

The innovative service solves the challenge of insufficient funds that Mpesa customers face when doing business via the service. The mobile money service has maintained its lead in the market since its launch. Safaricom’s competitors are far from catching up with the popularity of Mpesa.

Read Also: The Success of Mpesa in Kenya

The success of the Fuliza service is an indication of the need for such services in the Kenyan market. Within the first six months, Mpesa customers had borrowed 81 billion Kenyan shillings via the service. Kenyans are still in need of affordable and accessible loan services to do business.

Prior to Fuliza, Safaricom introduced the Mswari and KCB-Mpesa services for its customers. Both services use the customer’s Mpesa transactions data to determine loan limits. High values of Mpesa transactions enable customers to access higher amounts.

The telecom company has used the same strategy with Fuliza. Safaricom is working with the KCB Group and Commercial Bank of Africa to provide the overdraft service. When a customer borrows funds, the amount is sent to their Mpesa accounts.

Safaricom’s CEO Michael Joseph attributed the success of Fuliza to the significant role that Mpesa plays in the country. Mpesa has expanded and deepened financial inclusion, especially of low-income earners.

With the mobile money service, all customers can access loan services without depending directly on banks. The CEO further stated that Fuliza is one way of fulfilling the promise that the Company makes to provide relevant products and services.

The 26 million-plus subscribers is a clear sign that the service is relevant to Safaricom customers. The number of customers continues to rise despite competition from other telecom companies such as Airtel and Telcom.

The Need for Partnership

Huawei brings in the technology that enables Safaricom to offer the overdraft service. The Chinese giant has an overdraft platform that powers the design and development of financial products such as Fuliza.

Through the platform, Huawei provides secure and stable overdraft services. Security is a major concern for such services that involve millions of transactions and variant payment schedules.

Speaking about winning the prestigious award, David Chen, Huawei’s Director of Marketing and Solution Sales emphasized the need for security. David pointed to a business commitment that software companies in Nairobi, Kenya can borrow.

David indicated that Huawei combines security and stability in all its application programming for financial services. The technology behind Fuliza combines a world-class API with a secure platform for Mpesa users to access additional funds.

Despite the challenges in the global market, Huawei has made history in launching its innovative mobile phones. In September 2019, Huawei launched the Mate 30 series of smartphones without Google services.

Related: Huawei Mate 30 Phone Series Are Finally Out Without Google Apps

The Company responded to the US ban with a series of prestigious smartphones with its operating system. In addition, Huawei showcased its 5G technology at the AfricaCom event. Such technologies have contributed to the digital transformation that the world is witnessing.

Fuliza is one of the engagements that Safaricom has had with Huawei. The two companies have worked together over the years to improve Safaricom’s financial services. The innovative loan services do not only target individuals but SMEs.

While services such as Fuliza attract millions of individuals, the companies work together with macro benefits in mind. Consider the number of businesses in Kenya and beyond that depend on Mpesa to complete transactions.

Product Development and Diversification

The partnership between Safaricom and Huawei is the first lesson for entrepreneurs in Kenya. Companies can achieve more through collaboration. The second lesson is about product development and diversification.

Safaricom officially launched the Mpesa service in 2007 after years of research on the possibility of money transfer through mobile phones. The service has set the pace for other countries.

Despite the success of the transfer service, Safaricom has continued to develop the services. The loan services started with a partnership with banks. Today, it is hard to come across an established business in Kenya without the Mpesa payment service.

Kenyans pay most of their monthly utilities via Mpesa. Should we mention the contribution of Mpesa to the popularity of betting platforms in Kenya? Yet, even with the successes in the past, the management is still exploring new services like Fuliza.

Recently, Safaricom introduced data and airtime with no expiry date. The moves are great lessons for business owners to keep innovating their products. Safaricom enjoys the largest market share yet the company never stops rebranding and improving its products.

With over 33 million subscribers, it is easy for a company to settle and cash in the profits. However, the management keeps pushing to increase the market share and reach new markets.

Huawei on its part has expanded its technologies and products to the entire globe. The Chinese brand has had its share of challenges but its products and services are still penetrating new markets.

Final remarks

Safaricom’s success with the Fuliza service shows that Kenyans are still looking for affordable loan services. The service offers an alternative to the now popular instant loan apps. The partnership with Huawei is good but a challenge to software companies in Nairobi, Kenya. We need to improve our creativity and innovation to provide similar or even better financial platforms. Fuliza is a first in Kenya. Developers should be thinking of similar or even better platforms for other telecom companies.