Kenyan Youth And The Digital Borrowing Craze

“In the world of today owning a smartphone is considered more of a need than a necessity”. A financial access survey done in 2016 by the central bank of Kenya revealed that 77.5 % of Kenyans own a mobile phone. This is clearly more than half of the population. The increase in mobile use in Kenya led to the emergence of mobile banking. This is meant to make the banking experience in Kenya more accessible and convenient. And this is how fintech revolution was born in Kenya.

With mobile banking in place, it led to the need of having mobile lending applications. This made getting access to a loan become easier and faster than calling your nearest bank or micro finance facility. With a click of a button on your smartphone, a registered user can be able to borrow as little as Ksh 500 to Ksh 70,000 without a hustle.

The fintech industry has been on an upward sprite since its emergence. It is estimated that there are at least 50 mobile phone lending apps operating in Kenya. Due to the wide variety available, getting a soft loan has become  very easy and popular among the Kenyan youth. According to the 2018 digital credit survey, 35% or roughly 6 million people have taken at least one digital loan. And according to the survey, most of them are the Kenyan youth. The most popular applications are M-Shwari, KCB-Mpesa, Fuliza, Tala, Branch and Timiza.

The digital borrowing craze by the Kenyan youth is being experienced due to their lack of paper work, guarantors and collateral. It offers a ‘quick fix’ to the Kenyan youth’s problem. Most of the youths have admitted that they borrow money to keep up a flashy lifestyle on social media. They use the money to buy alcohol, to go on concerts, clubs and restaurants. The Kenyan Youth wants instant gratification; they want it now and here. Most of them would rather borrow and buy what they want immediately, rather than save and buy it later with no interest to pay. They don’t want to associate themselves with hustle or struggle and thus take up loans to maintain a good status quo.

The Kenyan youth are so dependent on these online borrowing applications such as Fuliza,Tala, Okash and Branch that they take up more loans to repay existing loans. Since this online loans are mainly short term loans, one may borrow and may not be able to pay back before it matures. Therefore in order to avoid a bad credit rating, they end up borrowing from another online application to repay the first loan and then borrow from the first application to repay the second loan until they can finally pay it off.

It has been noted that there are 350,000 more Kenyans listed on the credit reference bureau since the emergence of lending applications. This just shows how much individuals are dependent on this apps especially the Kenyan youths. The youths should therefore strive to live within their means and try as much as they can to avoid these soft loans.

Other loan apps include Haraka, Okolea, Stawika,Utunzi,Pesazone, Jazika, Saida among many others.



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