Safaricom, in partnership with Gulf African Bank, has launched Halal Pesa, the first Sharia-compliant mobile and digital financial product.
Under the deal, the bank will offer Sharia-compliant financing to its M-Pesa customers.
Speaking in Mombasa during the launch, Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa noted that the product was a response to suggestions from M-Pesa customers on how to accommodate Muslims in various financial programmes.
“We launched M-Pesa in 2007 and since then it has been doing well. We then introduced credit services with banks, but the Muslim community felt left out, hence why we partnered with Gulf Bank to come up with Halal Pesa,” Mr Ndegwa said.
He added that Halal Pesa is meant to empower M-Pesa customers who were previously been locked out of access to financing due to barriers such as lack of Sharia-modelled mobile facilities.
“It is the first in Africa, a halal-certified financial product that will be serving an area that has been neglected in the past. When we came up with Fuliza, it was the first in the world,” Mr Ndegwa said.
“We expect to start small and grow. It will also enhance partnerships we have with banks by combining technology and coming up with innovations that will help to solve an issue that affects customers/societies, and also to support SMEs.”
He added that their main focus will be to educate customers on how to access the product and to later introduce it under the M-Pesa app.
Customers accessing financing through the service will receive the money requested in full with a repayment period of 30 days at a five per cent commodity murabaha margin.
All M-Pesa customers can access Halal Pesa as a mini-app under the grow option on the M-Pesa super app and by dialling *334# under loans and savings. Customers will initially be provided with a personalised facility limit based on their M-Pesa usage.
The limit can be increased based on a customer’s usage of Halal Pesa.
Gulf African Bank Managing Director Abdalla Abdulhalik said the product was assessed by the Sharia board and approved.
First of its kind
“Halal Pesa is the first of its kind as a halal financial product. This is the first time it is being launched in Kenya and Africa,” he said.
“It works under a model called commodity murabaha, which is a product used for other types of trade in the Islamic banking industry. It is mostly used where there is no specific asset being traded for but rather for capital management.”
He noted that the uptake of mobile lending platforms is low in Muslim-dominated regions because these did not conform to their faith.
“We have high expectations. It is a product that is highly needed; we did enough research. We have so many needs, especially during these tough economic times, and this is where we come in. We loan you for today then you pay in a month’s time,” Mr Abdulhalik said, adding that the maximum loan amount is Sh20,000 but it will be increased as the product grows.