Telecommunication company Safaricom is set to launch a new savings platform, Mali, which will rival local brick and mortar banks.
The platform, Mali (wealth), is in the final stages of testing and will allow M-Pesa users to invest and earn a 10 percent annual interest, which will accrue daily.
The service will be accessible to Mpesa users who are over three-month old on Mpesa, with savings caped to Ksh70,000. It will be accessible through USSD code *230 # or via a PayBill number to be unveiled.
“The product is supposed to encourage savings where you can put in money and withdraw the next day, but you will have earned something on the money since interest is calculated per day,” said a top Safaricom executive quoted by Business Daily.
Safaricom has since confirmed existence of the app, saying that it will be released “at the right time.”
“Mali is one such innovation that is currently in early testing phase and still subject to ongoing engagement with the relevant regulators for approval. It is therefore premature to comment on plans around the service and whether or when it will be available to all our customers,” noted the telco in a statement.
Recent data show that savings interest fell to 4.58 percent in September compared to 6.33 percent in the same month last year, cementing the ground for Safaricom’s new product which targets small-scale savers.
Initially, Safaricom relied on Mshwari, a mobile-based lending and saving platform to ofer semi-banking customers to its 20 million customers.
Later, Kenya Commercial Bank partnered with the telco to launch KCB-Mpesa, a product similar to Mshwari. The platform has failed to break even, and its performance data has been kept under wraps.
On January 7 this year, Safaricom inked a deal with KCB and NCBA to launch an overdraft services dubbed Fuliza. Fuliza lent out Ksh140 billion in the first nine months.
The current revenue sharing formula for the Fuliza product is 40:40:20 for Safaricom, NCBA and KCB respectively, according to Standard Investments Bank.
The bank notes that KCB earned Ksh484 million in the first half of 2019 in revenue from Fuliza, thus totaling Ksh2.4bn for the entire product to end of June 2019.
Standards Investments Bank was addressing its investors, hinting that it could be the new Safaricom’s partner in the venture.
“We view the combination of lending and wealth management services as a further boost to earnings from financial services.The product which is yet to be launched officially, possibly includes a partner bank and a fund manager,” noted Standard Investments Bank.