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Mobile credit reference service launched in Kenya

TransUnion

Global credit reference solution provider TransUnion has launched a mobile-based credit reference service that enables Kenyans conveniently access their credit information. TransUnion Nipashe is an SMS short code platform that provides consumers with accurate, up-to-date information about their credit rating.

The mobile credit reference service comes against the backdrop of a rapidly growing micro-lending disbursed through mobile phones. M-Shwari, for instance, has extended Sh29B in unsecured loans in two years.

TransUniion Kenya CEO, Steve Kamau, says defaulting on these loans will adversely affect a customer’s credit score and consequently future loan applications.

“Nipashe means ‘inform me’ in Kiswahili, and that is exactly what our new product aims to do. Access to credit from formalized financial institutions is a significant challenge for many consumers in Kenya, and lenders will typically refer consumers to the credit bureau if their loan application is declined for any reason,” explains Steve Kamau, CEO TransUnion Kenya.

Through the service, consumers can gain an instant view of their credit standing, and can request a credit report for a more detailed report. Consumers can access the service by sending an SMS with their name to 21272 or 21CRB and register at a cost of Sh50. They can then request their credit status at a charge of Sh19 per SMS, and receive a message back with their credit status listed as “good” or “default”

The credit report will provide more detail, including the names of all credit institutions and facilities the consumer is active with, how payments are being made, whether any accounts are in arrears, and how long they have been in arrears for.

“For many consumers, being told they have a negative credit listing is unhelpful as they are unaware of exactly what the issue is.  Armed with their credit report, they can now easily identify areas that may be reducing their credit rating,” says Kamau.

Credit reference service has gained momentum in the country after the Banking Regulations were operationalized in 2009, receiving and sharing customers’ financial data with over the 40 banks and other lenders like SACCOs. TransUnion acquired CRB Africa, one of the three bureaus licensed by CBK, in 2012.

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