Economy

High mobile loans appetite bares Kenyans’ cash strain

MOBILE

Six of the top 10 downloaded free software on Google Play Store in Kenya are now mobile loan apps. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Six of the top 10 downloaded free software on Google Play Store in Kenya are now mobile loan apps, reflecting the dire financial strain of the population.

Some of the top downloads are Mkopo Haraka, TruePesa, Kopesha, AsapKash, Zenka and Zash Loan. In the list of the top 20 downloaded apps by Friday last week, 11 were loan apps, denoting 55 percent of the top 20 downloads.

It was a different scenario on the Apple App Store, the repository for apps used by iPhone users, as only one loan app — Zenka — featured among the top 50 free apps. It was in position 44.

Prof XN Iraki of the University of Nairobi’s Faculty of Business and Management Sciences says the scramble for apps is an indicator of the dire straits Kenyans are in.

“It is a clear indicator that the economy is doing badly,” he said. Some of the apps in the store charge exorbitant interest rates.

They also ask to access a number of details on a user’s phone that include contacts, messages, call logs, M-Pesa transactions, among others. Some ask for M-Pesa statements as a prequalification for a loan.

Others are jammed with advertising slots to take advantage of the numerous downloads while others go even a step further to ask customers to send a “commitment fee” before qualifying for loans.

For instance, Mkopo Haraka asks for Sh201 to be sent via an M-Pesa till number before one can qualify for a loan. And reviews made on the app say it is not guaranteed for one to get a loan.

In Prof Iraki’s view, a person who needs money badly will hardly care about information being requested.

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