Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa
Image: Twitter

At least Sh316 billion was borrowed on Safaricom's overdraft facility, Fuliza in six months to September, translating to Sh1.8 billion per day. This is a 30 per cent increase compared to Sh242.6 billion borrowed same period last year.

The daily disbursement for a similar period last year was Sh1.3 billion per day.

At least 60 per cent of the loan was for consumption, illustrating survival mode for many families who are facing tough economic times amid high inflation that hit 9.6 per cent in October.

This is demonstrated by the reduction of Fuliza ticket size, which has dropped, by a Sh50 in the past year.

The average amount borrowed on the platform in the review period was Sh320.90 compared to Sh375.80 same period the previous year.

Data from Safaricom Plc's half-year results for the period between March and September, a total of 7.4 million Kenyans borrowed from Safaricom’s popular overdraft facility to mark the highest number of users for the service on record.

According to the telco, the number of distinct customers on the service rose by 14.2 per cent from 6.4 million persons at the same time last year.

Disbursements on Fuliza are projected to grow even further following a reduction in the pricing of the overdraft facility by up to 50 per cent for the daily fee for transactions up to Sh1000 for the first three days.

Fuliza has continued to obliterate Safaricom’s other lending value products including KCB M-Pesa and M-Shwari which have both stagnated in the value of loan disbursements made in recent years.

The value of disbursements on KCB M-Pesa for instance declined by 5.5 per cent to Sh21.7 billion in the six months while credit issuances via M-Shwari were flat at Sh43.4 billion in the period.

On Friday, Safaricom revealed that it is working alongside its partners: -KCB and NCBA, on a credit repair programme that will see up to four million Kenyans cleared to access loans on the platform according to estimates from the company.

The high uptake of Fuliza loans saw the company’s overall service revenue grow by 4.6 per cent to Sh144.8 billion on the first half of the year, with M-Pesa contributing nearly half of it.

One month M-Pesa users grew 8.6 per cent during the period to 31.17 million.

The telco’s M-Pesa revenue surged a massive 8.8 per cent to Sh56.9 billion while the data reported a double-digit growth of 11.3 per cent to Sh26.3 per cent during the period under review. Despite this, the firm’s profits for the period dipped 10 per cent on high expansion cost to Ethiopia.

Speaking during the investor briefing, Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa said the company invested $598 million in Ethipia operations, muting profit growth to 33.4 billion.

Even so, the firm’s net income grew to 0.6 per cent year on year supported by the 4.6 per cent growth.

The telco is expected to extend the mobile money market dominance to Ethiopia after the country’s premier Abiy Ahmed allowed the deal during the commercial launch of Safaricom Ethiopia early last month.

In 2021, as part of plans to revamp the telecommunications sector, Ethiopia issued a tender to award two licences to private telecommunication operators.

One licence was awarded to a consortium led by Safaricom, which offered $850 million and promised to invest $8.5 million over 10 years.