This project focuses on the plight of poor Kenyans who have been trapped in debt by the explosion of fintech in the East African country.
For example, borrowings from the regulated Safaricom’s mobile money overdraft service known as Fuliza rose by 30.7% in the six months to June this year, fueled by households seeking to deal with high inflation. The amount of cash disbursed on Fuliza hit USD $2.38 billion in the first-half period, up from USD $1.82 billion in the same period of 2021. This translates to about USD $13 million daily borrowing despite Fuliza's 395.2 percent annualized fee.
The interest charges are even higher among hundreds of other unregulated digital lenders that disbursed billions to households with exaggerated loan costs of up to 520 percent, leading to mounting defaults. Some 14 million loan accounts held by 3 million individuals in Kenya have been blacklisted by the Credit Reference Bureaus (CRBs), signifying the debt trap. Many have been forced to liquidate property to clear their debts.