Kenya mobilises its financial inclusion

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“Kenya’s M-pesa has made a huge impact in the country in terms of allowing Kenyans to access formal financial services. It has really broadened our outreach substantially with 63 per cent of Kenyans reporting that they do use M-pesa,” FSD Kenya’s head of knowledge theme Amrik Heyer told CNBC Africa.         

“What we see is that some of the strongest gains in financial inclusion have been in the realm of mobile money. We’re still not quite where we would want to be in terms of full financial intermediation.”

Kenya’s strategic development blue print, Vision 2030, sets out a number of key sector priority goals, which include the need to enhance financial inclusion as well as profiling developments in financial access and usage in Kenya.

“We’ve found that we have made very strong progress in financial inclusion in Kenya – it’s gone up to 67 per cent this year, which is nearly at the same level as South Africa. That’s also combatted a lot of our exclusion in Kenya,” said Heyer.  

“We’re very pleased with the results of the survey because they demonstrate that financial inclusion in Kenya is really making strong strides and it’s putting us second on the African continent.”

Heyer added that the Kenyan population seems to be increasingly using mobile technology as opposed to traditional banks but that full financial intermediation is still in its infancy.   

“In urban areas over 80 per cent of the population are within walking distance of a mobile money agent – that’s slightly lower in rural areas but it has brought financial services much nearer to people’s homes. People can now access through their mobile money accounts, their ubiquitous mobile money agents,” she explained.   

“However, what we’re not seeing happening over mobile services is full financial intermediation. That’s just beginning in Kenya with M-shwari which delivers savings and credit solution for people over the M-pesa platform. That’s an exciting development for us because it means we’ve got the reach of mobile and the full financial services intermediation of banks coming together.”