Since the launch of M-PESA banks have incorporated various products that utilize the M-PESA platform in order to avoid possible competition from the Safaricom’s product. To avoid the competion they started by being M-PESA agents, moved to integrating Bank Accounts with M-PESA via the m-banking services on mobile phones’ USSD feature, launched M-Kesho (Equity Bank), M-Shwari (CBA) and now M-Benki (KCB).
M-Kesho – Instead of incorporating M-PESA on its m-banking product, Equity Bank decided to partner with Safaricom and launched the M-Kesho bank account. This one is rather tedious to operate. After physically visiting the bank to open the M-Kesho account through paper work, one had to transfer money twice from the Equity ordinary account to M-PESA and vise versa. For example, to transfer money from your ordinary savings account in Equity to M-PESA, you are required to first transfer the money to the M-Kesho account then transfer the amount from the M-Kesho account to M-PESA. To transfer money from M-PESA to Equity account, you first need to transfer money from M-PESA to M-Kesho is when you can transfer the money from M-Kesho to the ordinary bank account. M-Kesho never got popular and since early this year Equity bank allowed account holders to directly transfer money from their accounts to M-PESA and to Orange Money using their eazzy 247 m-banking platform.
M-Shwari – Then Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA) saw the problems with M-Kesho and in partnership with Safaricom, they introduced M-Shwari. With M-Shwari, you are not required to visit any branch to transact business. The only thing that M-PESA users were required to do at launch is to update the M-PESA menu in order to reflect M-Shwari in the menu items. Thereafter accessing the M-Shwari item in the menu gave users the prompts to open up an M-Shwari account. With M-Shwari, an M-PESA user can choose to transfer his/her M-PESA balance to the M-Shwari account and keep it there as savings to earn interest. The more you save on M-Shwari, the more you increase the amount of money that you be loaned. Withdrawing money from M-Shwari to M-PESA costs you nothing but getting a loan from M-Shwari means paying a loan processing fee of 7.5% of the loan amount. The success of M-Shwari has seen over 3 million M-PESA subscribers use the account. Over shs. 1 billion was saved over shs. 140 millions accessed as loans just within a month of commissioning M-Shwari.
M-Benki – To tap in this market, KCB has launched a product they call M-Benki. M-Benki can be said as an integration of both M-Kesho and M-Shwari. As M-Kesho, M-Benki will allow users to physically visit the bank to transact business while as M-Shwari, users can transact all businesses via mobile phones. To open up an M-Benki account, one can dial *522#, enter their national ID number, full names and follow the prompts leading to receipt of a T24 account number and a PIN for the M-Benki. Alternatively, one can go to M-PESA menu, go to payment services, choose paybill, enter 522522 as the paybill number, enter ID number as account number, enter M-PESA pin as usual and send. After opening the account one can start using it immediately by saving as little as shs. 50 into the account from M-PESA via the paybill option. Users can also withdraw into M-PESA and borrow loans. An account holder is also allowed to transact business by physically visiting a KCB branch.
So what sets M-Benki and M-Shwari apart?
- M-Shwari is part of M-PESA menu whereas M-Benki utilizes M-PESA’s paybill option.
- With M-Shwari one can never transact busises from a physical bank branch but with M-Benki one can.
- M-Shwari seems superior in that it is part and parcel of M-PESA menu
- M-Benki seems to allow normal loaning terms payable in years as opposed to M-Shwari’s monthly loan terms. This gives M-Benki superiority over M-Shwari (not yet confirmed).
- M-Benki serves both quick, short term and long term loans (possible according to info given to me by KCB customer care representative).
- M-Shwari only serves quick loans on a month by month basis.
Given that M-Benki seems to be solely a KCB product without a major involvement from Safaricom, its success will hardly match M-Shwari’s. I suppose it will be more successful compared to M-Kesho but fall short of M-Shwari’s success.
In other news, our institutions need to embrace online presence than they have done so far. In an attempt to get much information about M-Benki from http://ke.kcbbankgroup.com, the image above was the result. I wonder why KCB provided M-Benki information to the press, go ahead to enable M-Benki Registration, yet fail to provide the relevant information on their own website. Anyone operating a website meant to provide public information ought to first avail such information on their websites, second to the media.