NAIROBI, Kenya, May 4 – Micro-finance customers banking with Small and Medium Enterprises Programme (SMEP) can now make their monthly savings and loan repayments via their mobile phones after the signing of a partnership agreement with Safaricom.
SMEP Chief Executive Phyllis Mbungu said on Monday that the partnership was geared towards reaching more of the un-banked people in the country.
“We are making our stand known that the barriers erected by the conventional banking can’t hinder our call of making financial services accessible to millions of deserving Kenyans,” she said.
Ms Mbungu added that the new service would go a long way in making loan repayment and money deposit easier for those in rural areas.
“We want to make our services easily accessible to the financially marginalised population especially those in rural areas where conventional banking infrastructure is not available. Our customers can easily deposit their savings and pay their loans at their convenience,” Ms Mbungu added.
The partnership is aimed at customers wishing to transact anything between Sh100 and Sh10,000 in line with SMEP’s particular customer needs.
Ms Mbungu said: “At the moment we are targeting those who wish to transact anything up to Sh10,000 but we will look into increasing this depending on how well this initial concept is adopted.”
According to Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Michael Joseph with the signing of the agreement, SMEP becomes the first micro finance institution to partner with the mobile service provider.
“As early as 2005, together with our partner Vodafone, Safaricom piloted M-PESA with micro-finance customers who receive and repaid their loans through the mobile phone. Two years after launching M-PESA, it has finally come home,” Mr Joseph remarked.
“At Safaricom, we are committed to offering business solutions that make it easier for our partners to service their customers efficiently.”
The new service has been piloted since late 2008 with SMEP having received assistance by integrating M-PESA payments to their customers from Mobile Micro Finance Ltd (U.K), Triple Jump and Oxfam Novib.
The new service is expected to reduce the number of those visiting banking halls as well as providing reliable and convenient means of loan repayment and monthly savings to more than 50,000 SMEP customers.
Currently Safaricom has more than 60 companies signed up for the pay bill service and accept payments via M-PESA from their customers.