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Drivers in Kenya help close credit gaps
Obtaining credit is one of the major obstacles for small business and individual borrowers across the globe, as relatively few humans have banking or credit standing to accompany them so that creditors can evaluate the risks. As part of the Sidian Banking program, Uber's car reservation and consumer-satisfaction registration application provides the information the creditor needs to determine whether to provide Uber customers with relatively inexpensive credit to buy their own vehicles.
In order to obtain a credit from Sidian, a rider must have at least 500 rides with Uber and have an overall pass rate of at least 4.6 points from a top 5 to ensure that the best performers receive the credit. "It really is a data-driven credit analytics paradigm that does without the bank tradition and relies instead on the information that Uber has collected," said Titus Karanja, Chief Executive Officer of Sidian Bank.
This means for Uber riders in Kenya's Nairobi like Michael Muturi that he now has the opportunity to buy a vehicle that would normally be out of range, as most of his income normally goes to the owners of the cars he uses. At Sidian we offer up to 100 per cent finance for a single vehicle, with a credit limit of 1.5 million Schillings.
She has already received 10 three-year mortgages with a 10th instalment since the launch of the ministry at the end of May. 5% interest far below the 18% mean that most Kenyans face. According to the Federal Reserve, a credit crunch in the state where the first credit ratings office opened in 2010 is one of the main causes why only 4.4 per cent of the 45 million inhabitants have a private credit.
"It is difficult to develop the credit in Kenya," said Melekot Abate, an employee at the CrossBoundary consultancy in Nairobi. "The majority of people have very little credit histories or asset seizures, so bankers are not willing to take the risk," he said. Like in other countries, over-drivers have encountered resistance and sometimes hostilities from other cabmen.
Kenya indicted six men in March for attempt at homicide and wilful material assault on an over-driver. Uber is expanding further in a land where many people shy away from driving with people they don't know and don't rely on. About has also inspire competitors. Safaricom, a 40 per cent UK-based Vodafone subsidiary, said this week that it had teamed up with a regional softwares provider to start a ride-hailing operation to take it up with Uber.
The Sidian Bank, which is part of Kenya's largest publicly traded fund, Centum Investments, has provided 10 billion Schillings for the auto loans programme, and Uber is hoping it can be used elsewhere. Similar credit systems were introduced in South Africa, the continent's most industrialised country, based on Uber statistics.
However, Kenya's less sophisticated finance markets are more typically found in the remainder of the country and should give a better idea of how the credit programme could be replicated. Approximately 38% of Kenyans have bank deposits with business banking institutions, up from 77% in South Africa, according to FSD Kenya, a UK-funded programme to develop greater banking accessibility.
Safaricom's M-Pesa portable cash change solution has developed into a competing solution in Kenya and similar ventures in other Africa and beyond.