The process of bringing unregulated digital credit providers (DCPs) under the supervision of the Central Bank of Kenya reached an important milestone on Saturday, September 17, when the window to apply for licences closed.
This is in line with the Section 59(2) of the CBK Act that required all digital lenders who have previously been operating without regulation to apply for a licence or cease operations six months after the publication of the CBK (Digital Credit Providers) Regulations 2022.
Of the 288 applications the CBK says it has received since March 2022, only 10 applicants have been licensed as DCPs. These are:
The remaining applications are at different stages in the licensing process with the CBK says they are awaiting the submission of requisite documents.
“We urge these applicants to submit the pending documentation expeditiously to enable completion of the review of their applications.”
As regards digital lenders who failed to meet the September 17 deadline of applying for a CBK licence, the regulations require them to cease operations.
“All other unregulated DCPs that did not apply for licensing must cease and desist from conducting digital credit business,” the CBK warns.
Those who applications are still being processed will continue operating until a decision is made on their applications.
With some of the newly-licensed DCPs being in the category of Non-deposit taking Microfinance Institutions (not under the Microfinance Act), a fairly distinct category from app-based digital lenders, it is yet to be seen what effect CBK supervision will have on existing products from these institutions that have existed for far much longer than ‘digital lenders’.