If you have ever ran out of money way ahead of your next paycheck, you may already be familiar with digital loans - one of the quickest ways to access emergency cash or money to deal with an urgent need.
There is also the situation where you are not able to access your savings at a Money Market Fund, a fixed deposit account or Sacco account whether it is because there are withdrawal restrictions or there you are trying to do so outside working hours.
And then there is the business person who just received a quick order that needs to be fulfilled urgently and they do not have the working capital to do so - maybe they just stocked up another product or his credit customers still have two weeks to pay.
These are just some of the many scenarios where digital loans come in handy to ensure we can continue with our day-to-day life, sort out emergencies or take advantage of money-making opportunities.
But all digital loans are not created equal; some have strict eligibility requirements, others have unclear terms and conditions, others do not tell you how to grow your limit, others have good interest rates, dedicated customer service representatives just like banks and others even offer extensions.
That is why you may want to partner with a digital lender that has your best interests in mind and one who you can rely on whenever you are in a scenario where a digital loan is the best option to take.
To help you determine which digital lender best fits your needs, we regularly review legitimate digital loans available in the Kenyan market today. In this review, we zero in on FlashPesa, a digital loan offering loans up to a maximum of 50,000 and a maximum loan tenure of 31 days.
FlashPesa is one of the few digital lenders in the Kenyan market that have a clear loan limit growth process that is standard for all borrowers, it has a relatively competitive interest rate and employs dedicated customer relationship managers that customers say make them feel like they are dealing with a traditional lender such as a bank or sacco.
Is FlashPesa the digital loan partner you need?
Let’s find out below.
Where FlashPesa Stands Out: Transparency in loan limit growth process, simplified fees, relatively competitive interest rate, interest rate reduces as loan limit grows, dedicated relationship management
FlashPesa is a digital credit provider that operates in Kenya. It is a product of Ambush Capital, a Kenyan-registered company.
The Central Bank of Kenya (Digital Credit Providers) Regulations, 2022, were gazetted on March 18, 2022. The Regulations allowed the CBK to licence and oversight previously unregulated Digital Credit Providers (DCPs) by CBK.
FlashPesa was among the first digital lenders to apply for a licence line with the regulations. Only 32 out of over 400 licence applications have been approved by the CBK so far. All DCPs that submitted their applications by the deadline, by law, continue to operate legally until a decision on the licence application is made.
The FlashPesa digital loan offers loans from a minimum Ksh1,000 and a maximum of Ksh50,000.
To be eligible for the FlashPesa digital loan, you must be at least 24 years of age. You must also have a good credit history. In this regard, you are required to provide some KYC information and consent to FlashPesa verifying your credit record with licensed Credit Reference Bureaus (CRBs) in Kenya.
The information includes:
The FlashPesa digital loan comes with an all-inclusive service fee of between 12% and 25% per loan - depending on a number of factors we will explain below. There are no additional fees.
For starters, note that all FlashPesa clients go through a standard loan application and limit increment process. You graduate from one loan limit to the next level based on your repayment history in a very predictable format. This makes the process of understanding your limit and interest much simpler and more transparent.
Level I: Once you qualify for your first FlashPesa, the limit is Ksh1,000 for all first time applicants. The interest applicable is 25% and the loan has a term of 15 days.
Level II: Once you have cleared your first loan, you will qualify for at least Ksh2,000 loan that is also charged a 25% service fee. The loan tenure remains 15 days.
Level III: On your third application, you will qualify for a Ksh3,000 loan. However, the interest charged will be 22% while the loan tenure remains 15 days.
Level IV: On the fourth application, you will qualify for a loan of Ksh4,500 with a 22% service fee and a term of 15 days.
Level V: On your fifth loan application, you will qualify for a Ksh6,000 loan limit and the tenure will be increased to 22 days. The service fee on the fourth loan will be 18%.
Level VI: On the sixth loan application, your limit will be Ksh7,000 and the interest will be 17.86%. The loan tenure will be 22 days.
Level VII: On the seventh successful loan, you will get a Ksh8,000 loan limit. It is at this stage where you can qualify for a 31-day tenure. If you choose the 22-day loan, the service fee is 17.50%. If you choose the 31-day loan, the service fee is 17.22%.
Level VIII: On the eighth application (assuming you have been taking the full amounts at each level and want to apply for more) you will have access to a loan limit of Ksh9,000.
For 22 days, you will be charged a 17% service fee. For the 31-day loan tenure, the service fee will be 22%.
At this level, you can access up to Ksh20,000 with the same service fees as outlined above.
Level IX: After qualifying for the Ksh20,000 loan limit, the next loan will see you qualify for a higher limit of Ksh22,000. And from here up to the maximum Ksh30,000 limit, the increments after each successful repayment will be Ksh2,000 each. So the next loan limits will be Ksh24,000, Ksh26,000 etc. up to Ksh30,000
Here, you will have the choice to have a loan term of 22 days at a 15% service fee or a 31-day loan term at 20%.
Level X: From Ksh30,000, the FlashPesa loan limits grow to Ksh34,000, then Ksh38,000 where the cost is 15% and 18% on 22 and 31 days respectively.
Lvel XI: Next, the loan limit grows by a further Ksh4,000 interval to Ksh42,000, then Ksh46,000 up to the max loan limit of Ksh50,000 at a cost of 12% and 15%
We have limits from 34,000 38,000 that cost 15% and 18% on 22- and 31-day tenures respectively).
For all FlashPesa loans, the service fee is deducted upfront before the loan amount is disbursed.
For example, if you apply for the Ksh1,000 loan, the applicable 25% service fee (Ksh250) is deducted from the amount before it is disbursed to you. This means you will receive Ksh750 in your Mpesa on your first loan but when it comes to repaying after 15 days, you will have to pay back Ksh1,000.
Similarly, for the Ksh30,000 loan, you will receive Ksh25,500 for the 22-day facility (charged 15%) and Ksh24,000 for the 31-day facility (charged 20%).
The FlashPesa digital loan comes with a 2% daily fee (on the outstanding balance) in the event of a default. This means that if you have a loan of Ksh6,000 and you were able to pay back Ksh2,000, the default fee will be 2% of 4,000 (the outstanding balance).
While the penalty applies daily until the payment is cleared, it only applies to the outstanding principal amount. That is, as in the example above, a daily fee of Ksh4,000*2%. The daily late penalty itself is not added to the outstanding principal to calculate the next day’s late penalty.
To avoid escalating costs, you may consider the following measures:
FlashPesa is keen on customer loyalty. This is evident from the loan limit qualification which is incremental and transparent. As well, the FlashPesa loan is structured such that you pay a lower interest rate as your limit grows.
The company is also testing out a loyalty programme which, at the moment, is only available to customers taking loans of Ksh18,000 and above.
Under the programme, you stand to earn up to 1% bonus on the loan amount borrowed if you repay on time. Note that if you replay the loan after the due date, you do not qualify for the bonus. It applies only if you pay before the due date or on the due date itself.
The FlashPesa digital loan can be helpful in helping you get quick capital for a business idea. There are various businesses that you can start within the limits provided under the FlashPesa digital loan. You could also have your own funds and top up the amount to raise the full capital when launching your business.
Some of the profitable business you can start include:
Capital from the FlashPesa loan can go a long way in growing your already existing business. Examples include:
It is often stated that opportunities often come to the prepared mind. Having knowledge of the FlashPesa loan can come in handy when you come across short term cash deals that you may not be in a position to fund using your own money.
For instance, you could come across a client looking to be supplied with agricultural produce in a situation where you are well aware of a cheap and ready source. But you do not have the working capital to buy this stock. If the client is not willing to pay upfront, a quick loan from FlashPesa may be what saves the deal.
You take the loan, purchase the stock from the wholesaler, sell to your client at a profit and pay back the loan.
Life can be unpredictable even when we take all measures to prepare for uncertainties.
These include an unanticipated loss of income, it could even be a salary delay, a medical emergency, unanticipated travel, theft, loss of an asset such as your smartphone, etc.
When faced with an emergency, you typically are in need of instant access to cash to resolve the situation as quickly as possible. FlashPesa processes your loan application with minutes making it a useful app to have on your phone in case of an emergency.
To access a FlashPesa loan as a first time applicant, you start by downloading the app on Google Play Store or on their website.
Once you have the app on your phone, you will proceed to register by providing your biodata including your full name as they appear on your ID, your national ID number, as well as names and contacts of referees.
Other details to be provided include your employment status, and disclosure on how you intend to use the loan.
Further, you will be required to give consent to the FlashPesa team to do a credit status check with one of the licensed CRBs.
The FlashPesa team then assesses your creditworthiness in a matter of minutes.
Once you have qualified to receive a loan, you then get a loan offer. As a first-time applicant, the first loan is usually Ksh1,000.
Once you have agreed to the loan offer, you will receive the loan in your mpesa instantly. Note that the service fee is deducted upfront which means you will get Ksh750 for your first loan.
The FlashPesa team extends the relationship beyond the loan disbursement. Once you become a client, a dedicated relationship manager (RM) is assigned to your account.
The RM has a personalised relationship with each client and shares relevant information such as new products that are available, reminders when your due date is approaching etc. The relationship manager is also the person you notify if you are having challenges repaying the loan on time.
FlashPesa tells Money254 that only educational messages are sent to a customer and are only sent between 8am and 8pm. FlashPesa does not contact clients after 8pm and before 8am.
The RM may also invite you to communities of other FlashPesa clients where relevant information on growing limits and repayment tips are shared.
The RM is also critical in the event of a default. They will contact you to follow up and understand the situation.
As FlashPesa tells Money254, the conversation is civil and the RM is mainly seeking to hear from you and the advice on how you can clear the outstanding amount.
After the initial call, you and the RM agree on a date that you are confident that you will have repaid. You will not be called again until the day you indicated you would clear the outstanding amount.
In the event that 30 days lapse from the day of default, FlashPesa extends the collection to a third party debt collector. FlashPesa tells us that the customer will be notified of this before the 30-day period lapses.
This is one of the outstanding features of the FlashPesa digital loan. Every client goes through the same process from the first loan disbursed to their maximum limit.
This is unique in the Kenyan digital lending space especially since it helps you as a borrower to better plan your finances.
For example, if you want to use the FlashPesa loan to start a business or as an accessible working capital loan whenever your business needs an injection, you could start building your limit step by step up to an amount you think would be sufficient for your needs.
FlashPesa has rather simplified fees, depending on the loan amount and the stage you are in as a borrower. There are no secondary or hidden fees, you only pay the service fee which is deducted from the disbursed amount.
This makes it easier for you to determine your ability to pay and even assess whether the loan suits your needs early in the application process.
FlashPesa tells Money254 that it is very deliberate about being client-centric. The company uses a team of relationship managers, just as banks and other traditional lenders do, to ensure the needs and the voice of the client are given priority. This is particularly a unique feature in an industry that had traditionally been marred by rogue lenders who engage in unethical collection practices.
In addition to the very predictable credit limit growth process, with FlashPesa you get a marginally lower interest rate as your loan limit increases. The interest rate ranges from 12% to the highest being 25%. As your loan limit grows with FlashPesa you will be moving from the 25% interest rate towards the lower 12% which is more than half.
This can be very beneficial if you are keen on borrowing higher amounts either as a good option to keep available in case of emergencies or for business use and so on.
With loan costs ranging from 15% to 25% per loan, FlashPesa’s loans are relatively competitively priced as compared to other lenders in the Kenyan market with some charging as high as 2% per day for a loan - which would mean for a 15-day loan you would have paid 30% as interest.
FlashPesa deducts the service fee before disbursing the loan. This feature is not unique to FlashPesa as several lenders in the digital lending market employ upfront deduction of loan fees.
TIP: If you are looking for the exact loan amount, then you may need to apply for a higher amount factoring in the fee to be deducted - if you qualify for a higher amount.
Early repayment is allowed under the FlashPesa digital loan. That is, you can clear your loan balance at any moment before the due date. But currently, as is with most digital lenders operating in Kenya today, there is no discount for repaying your loan early.
The advantage you get for repaying early is that you graduate to the next loan limit (as earlier discussed) - allowing you to borrow more.
An early repayment discount on the loan fee would be a great addition to the product.
As with most digital lenders in the market today, the maximum loan tenure for FlashPesa is 31 days. This may not always be long enough for some borrowers who may need a longer repayment period based on their income circumstances.
FlashPesa tells Money254 that there are plans to launch a 45-day and 61-day loan product to accommodate borrowers who may prefer a longer loan tenure.
Digital loans have revolutionised how Kenyans access credit. The speed in the disbursement process, including very little paperwork has provided great convenience to modern-day borrowers. If you are in need of a quick loan, you may consider the FlashPesa digital loan.
The product has a very predictable loan limit increment process which is great for a borrower’s personal planning. The journey from application to disbursement only takes a few minutes which can be particularly helpful in emergency situations.
Beyond emergencies, the FlashPesa Loan could be a convenient source of working capital to start or expand your business.
FlashPesa has particularly been deliberate in its customer relationship journey, including using dedicated relationship managers to liaise with clients - in the same fashion that traditional institutions such as SACCOs and banks would.