Kenya’s myNGOVO Launches Interest-Free Salary Advance App

Nairobi-based Kenyan fintech company, myNGOVO has introduced a self-service monetary app through which Kenyan workers can request for as much as 50% salary advance from their employers at zero interest charges.

myNGOVO joins mobile money lenders such as Kenya Commercial Bank KCB M-Pesa and iPesa, which are both affiliated to Kenyan telco giant Safaricom, as well as Airtel Money and Eazzy in Kenya’s fintech space.

The company’s CEO Methuselah Marava said about the launch, “myNGOVO stemmed from me seeing how my sister struggled in paying exorbitant interest charges to loan sharks because her employer didn’t have the working capital to offer her a salary advance. On further research, we realised it was a problem for many workers.”

75% of Kenyan workers earn below the average cost of living (Ksh50,000)

The minimum wage in Kenya is currently KSh13,572 ($125.52) per month. A report by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) showed that 25% of the salary earners in the country earn less than the minimum wage.

75% of salaried Kenyans earn below KSh50,000, which is the average cost of living per month in Kenya. Most of Kenya’s employees would, therefore, likely have exhausted their salaries before each month’s end due to the cost of living being higher than the amount that they earn per month.

With this being the case, many salary earners end up obtaining loans or requesting for a salary advance. Statistics from the Kenya Credit Reference Bureau (CRB) revealed that over 19 million of 53.8 million Kenyans are mobile loan borrowers. 40% (7.6 million) of this figure have acquired loans from at least 6 out of 10 mobile money lending services in the country.

Generally, the CRB statistics show that a large number of Kenyans, including salary earners borrow loans from mobile money lenders because they have a very limited budget. The problem is that many of the lenders take advantage of this situation by charging very high interest rates on repayment, high facility fees or deliberately accumulating hidden charges on customers’ loan or salary advance transactions.

Kenya’s expansive fintech space and money lenders

Safaricom’s M-Pesa is the leading fintech platform in Kenya, possessing a huge 98.8% of the market share, according to the Communications Authority of Kenya’s Q1 Statistics Report. 

Kenya's myNGOVO Launches Interest-Free Salary Advance App
A Safaricom M-Pesa agent

To qualify for KCB M-Pesa and M-Shwari loans, a user must be an M-Pesa subscriber for at least 6 months, have savings on KCB M-PESA or M-Shwari and actively use other Safaricom services. Users can obtain loans to clear a debt, pay tuition fees, fund a project or for any other tenable reason.

The two lenders have loan limits from KSh100 up to KSh50,000 with a facility fee charge of 7.5% and a repayment period of 30 days. Most salaried Kenyans borrow through these lenders.

Airtel Money has a meagre 1.1% market share in Kenya’s fintech space, but still offers loan services to individuals through a mobile-based bank account, M-Fanisi, after users open a savings account. Loans are repayable within 7 days, 14 days and 30 days at one-off facility fees of 4%, 6% and 10% plus applicable excise duty.

For a one-month duration, the fees on Airtel Money loans cost more than that of KCB M-Pesa and M-Shwari.

For Equitel’s Eazzy, with a negligible market share of 0.05%, loans are obtainable for users with active Equity Bank accounts or Equitel lines for a minimum period of 6 months. A user can borrow up to KSh3 million at an interest rate of 14% plus excise duties, higher than Airtel Money’s 10%. Eazzy loans are repayable within a month.

Banks As Alternative Money Lenders

Some of the banks which offer digital lending services in Kenya are the KCB and Co-operative Bank of Kenya (Co-op Bank).

KCB Bank account holders who have had an active bank account for at least 3 months and earn a monthly salary can apply for a salary advance loan of up to 100% at a maximum of KSh100,000 with a 13% interest rate before tax.

Co-op Bank, through its MCo-op Cash app, also grants loans from KSh100 to a maximum of KSh500,000 for customers who have been operating a Co-op Bank salary account for a minimum of 6 months. The bank charges 4% facility fee of the loan amount applied for plus 20% excise duty of the total commission charged.

Many salary earners in Kenya do not borrow from the banks because of all the formalities involved such as having to fill forms or visit a bank branch, as well as stringent bank policies on money lending.

KCB M-Pesa, iPesa, Airtel Money, Eazzy and myNGOVO do not require users to fill any form or visit a particular branch before loan transactions are processed.

In summary, by offering Kenyan employees zero interest charges on all salary advance transactions done via its app for now, myNGOVO will expect positive patronage from many Kenyan employees, as they will only be charged a small origination fee for every salary payment advance processed on the platform.


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