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Virtual lender Branch Kenya loans hit Sh3.6 billion

A MOBILE SUBSCRIBER WITHDRAWS MONEY FROM AN MPESA SHOP. FILE PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG
A MOBILE SUBSCRIBER WITHDRAWS MONEY FROM AN MPESA SHOP. FILE PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG  

Mobile-based lender Branch has disbursed a cumulative Sh3.63 billion ($35 million) loans in Kenya where virtual lending is growing in popularity.

Branch, founded in 2015, says its customer base has grown to 350,000 individuals who have made over 1.5 million loan transactions.

“We have seen fantastic growth at Branch because we know what our borrowers expect from their financial partner: they want speed, transparency and convenience,” Branch’s CEO, Matt Flannery, said in a statement.

“We are disrupting the existing lending space by making credit available at the tap of a button, within minutes of downloading the app — no paperwork or collateral necessary.”

The company has been loaning out about Sh412 million ($4 million) a month. The interest rates range from 13.6 per cent per month when one starts borrowing and can drop to 1.2 per cent as one’s credit rating improves.

Branch offers M-Pesa loans of up to Sh50,000 via an Android application that can be downloaded for free from the Google Play Store.

Lending decisions are made by a proprietary credit score calculated by analysing over 2,000 data points on applicants’ phones.

New borrowers start out with a loan of up to Sh1,000 and can grow their credit limit based on their repayment performance on previous loans.

Branch became the first African company in December 2015 to raise money- Sh950 million — from US-based venture capital fund Andreessen Horowitz whose portfolio includes Facebook and AirBnB.

The mobile-based financial services company has raised over Sh1.5 billion in equity and debt funding to date.

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