CBK grants licences to 12 more digital lenders

Central Bank of Kenya offices in Nairobi.

Central Bank of Kenya headquarters in Nairobi.

Photo credit: Pool I Nation Media Group

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has licensed 12 more digital lenders, bringing to 22 the total number of licensed Digital Credit Providers (DCPs) in the country.

Among the newly licensed lenders are Tala, M-Kopa, Tenakata and Zanifu.

This leaves 359 DCPs that have applied for licensing since March 2022 unlicensed, even as CBK says it is in the process of reviewing their applications.

In a statement on Monday, the financial services regulator indicated that it has received 381 applications since starting the process to approve digital lenders in March last year, and that the process to license the remaining ones are at various stages.

“This brings the number of licensed DCPs to 22 following the licensing of 10 DCPs announced in September 2022. CBK has received 381 applications since March 2022 and has worked closely with the applicants in reviewing their applications,” the CBK said.

The CBK also said it has engaged other regulators and agencies pertinent to the licensing process, including the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner.

“The focus of the engagements has been inter alia on business models, consumer protection, and fitness and propriety of proposed shareholders, directors, and management,” the CBK stated.

The list of approved digital lenders still leaves a large number of operators in the sector waiting to know what their fate will be, with regulators keen to address many complaints the public had raised against them, mainly on the methods they use to collect debts.

The newly licensed digital lenders are Inventure Mobile Limited (Trading as Tala), Jumo Kenya Limited, Letshego Kenya Ltd, MFS Technologies Limited, M-Kopa Loan Kenya Limited, Mycredit Limited, Natal Tech Company Limited, Ngao Credit Limited, Pezesha Africa Limited, Tenakata Enterprises Limited, Umoja Fanisi Limited and Zanifu Limited.

They join the list of 10 other lenders who were licensed in September 2022—Ceres Tech Limited, Getcash Capital Limited, Giando Africa Limited (Trading as Flash Credit Africa), Jijenge Credit Limited, Kweli Smart Solutions Limited, Mwanzo Credit Limited, MyWagepay Limited, Rewot Ciro Limited, Sevi Innovation Limited and Sokohela Limited.

The CBK says it wants to ensure that the interests of customers are safeguarded.

“Other applicants are at different stages in the process, largely awaiting the submission of requisite documentation. We urge these applicants to submit the pending documentation expeditiously to enable completion of the review of their applications,” the CBK stated.

The regulator continues to insist that the licensing and oversight of DCPs followed growing concerns by the public “about the predatory practices of the unregulated DCPs, and in particular, their high cost, unethical debt collection practices, and the abuse of personal information.”