By M&M Team
Last week, Finserve, a fintech subsidiary of Equity Group Holdings launched mKey, a keyboard based smartphone app that combines social networking, finance and lifestyle capabilities.
Over the one week since the launch, interested users have been on internet seeking information on the loans capability of the app.
Our reporters have been testing the app, looking at questions asked on social networks about the app and have condensed their experiences and interaction with the app’s customer care service into the following five things interested users need to know about mKey app.
1) Qualifying for mKey loans
Like in all mobile loan apps, the first step to qualifying for a loan is downloading the app (you can download the app here) and set up an account.
To set up mKey account, you will have to sign to the app through either facebook or google.
After signing in, the app will prompt you to the next account setting steps which includes taking your personal information details. The beauty of it that the only pieces of personal information needed are your full name, national identification or passport number and your phone number. This happens in three short steps making the app easy to use.
Once these three steps are completed, your account is set up and you are ready to begin building a transactions that will determine the loan amount you will qualify for.
2) Building your account profile
For most mobile loan apps, the profile that determines whether you qualify for a loan is built by the apps through analysis of your social media behaviour.
Such analysis may involve looking at the people you are in constant communication and whether these social media friends and contacts look like they have good disposable incomes.
This method of profile building automatically disqualifies many people who only use social media to follow up on social events because there is very little data to show what they talk to.
That is different with mKey. A user’s profile is built from the time they create an account and start using it for financial transactions.
And this is where mKey beats the other apps. The fact that the app allows the user to conduct many transactions of higher values means that it is easier for users to build their profile quickly.
According to Finserve Managing Director, Jack Ngare, the app uses an algorithm that tracks users transactions that include shopping on the embedded online shop, money transfer, bills payments, savings in the app’s wallet, payment of goods and services, borrowings and loans repayment.
The fact that the app’s wallet can hold as much as Sh999,999 and transfers can be made of that high amount means that regular transactions of high value will build a profile that allows users to borrow higher loan amounts at shorter time than any other mobile loan app.
3) Loan value
In mKey, the lowest loan value users can boreow is Sh300 while the highest is Sh1 million. This makes it the only mobile loan app that can disburse the biggest loan value to an individual in Africa.
The reason that the app is in a position to give such high loan amounts is because it is not locked to telecoms money transfer services.
Other loan apps are based on money transfer services provided by Kenyan telecoms such MPesa and Airtel Money whose mobile wallets are limited to just Sh70,000.
4) Interest rates
mKey loans are charged an interest rates ranging from 1-9 percent.
This means loans from the app are charged the lowest interest rates in Kenya. Mobile loans on Tala are charged an interest ranging from 11-15 percent while Branch charges 14-27 percent.
mKey interest rates are different for different borrowers depending on their credit histories.
For people who have never been listed with any credit reference bureau the interest can be as 1 percent. Then there are who have been listed in the credit reference bureaus who will be charged a fee of 9 percent.
Ngare says Finserve has developed its own credit score measurement in a bid to help those who have been listed with credit reference bureau access low interest loans through the app.
“The current practice is when you are listed, you lose chances of getting any loans in Kenya. What we have done is ensure those people who are listed can use their credit history positively to access credit,” says Ngare.
5) Not a loan from Equity
mKey loans are not Equity Bank loans. While Finserve and Equity Bank are related because they are both owned by Equity Group Holdings, their operations are separate and independent.
Ngare sums the relationship between Finserve and Equity Bank thus; “As a fintech company, Equity Bank is our client just like any other bank is welcome to be our customer. However, our customers are not Equity Bank customers.”
Essentially this means mKey users who are servicing Equity Bank loans can still get loans on the app and the loan from the bank will have bearing on the loan from the app.
Equity Bank loans will therefore not determine whether a user gets an mKey and neither will it be used to build the user’s profile.