HFC, the banking subsidiary of HF Group has entered Kenya’s digital financial services market with “HF Whizz” , a mobile app targeted at the youthful, digital savvy entrepreneurs in the country as the bank moves to meet the growing needs of the digital native generation.
The bank says HF Whizz is not for everyone but for youthful digital savvy hustlers and micro entrepreneurs. running informal businesses in city estates and in CBD. Some of these youthful entrepreneurs have no time for traditional banking and lack access to financial services not because they don’t qualify but because most banks have traditional products that need them to visit a physical branch to save or borrow or acquire property.
With the HF Whizz App users can pay for goods directly from their bank account, pay utility bills from the app, send money via M-PESA directly from their bank accounts or transfer cash from their accounts to another account. Users can also buy airtime for themselves or their friends and family straight from the app and quickly apply for a loan directly from their mobile phones.
How it works
To use the app, one needs to download the Android or iOS app then follow up a few steps to sign up for an account. HF Whizz users get real bank accounts as if they visited a physical branch. For identification and safety the app requires one to use their official names, phone number and national identity to sign up for an account.
HFC Group has announced plans to launch a USSD version to reach users who have no smartphones or with smartphones but are out of data.
With the HF Whizz app, a user has an HFC Group account and can do all major transactions like saving, depositing, borrowing and paying utility bills without any paperwork. Because the app is not just focused on loans, users can deposit via MPESA, then go ahead to pay bills or repay a loan or send money to their friends and family without leaving the app. Popular utilities such as DStv, Startimes, GOtv, Kenya Power among others are some of the preinstalled utility bills in the app.
Just like all the other digital banking platforms, Whizz app has a loans and savings section to allow users to save and borrow in a whizz. The app calculates how much one can borrow depending on their savings and repayments history to determine how much they can borrow. This can either go up or down depending on one’s transnational behavior. Users who borrow and pay on time are liable for bigger amounts while those who don’t repay early have their loan limits reduced to reduce lender risk.
Because there are so many apps in the market offering loans, HF Whizz app aims to introduce ethical lending in the market. The app has a budget section to allow users monitor what they are spending their money on. These helps users monitor their expenditure, budget their money and either save more or invest more into certain aspects of their lives.
According to a research by Responsible Finance in the UK, there was 45% rise in loans by growing network of responsible lenders with 10,000 new businesses and 25,000 jobs created. The findings show that for every £1 lent by ethical providers, £7 of value is added to the economy.
The HF Whizz app is an ethical digital banking app and though it gives instant loans, users have to repay and finish a set period of time so users can plan their money instead of just allowing them to borrow more. Users have to borrow as they grow their savings or investments or only borrow when they have the ability to pay for it.
Speaking at the unveiling of the new platform, HFC Managing Director Sam Waweru said that the bank’s digital banking platform is part of its business strategy to diversify and grow its retail business while it addresses consumer demand for banking on the go.
“Through HF Whizz, we want to deliver a frictionless digital experience across all our customer touchpoints with greater agility. It is our vision that the digital banking platform will enhance our customers experience, provide comprehensive business functionality and drive profitability,” said Mr. Waweru.
The platform has been developed to deliver on simplicity and speed of performance, and allows users to open a bank account, access their accounts and perform end-to-end banking transactions directly from their smart phones.
Simplicity and speed
“The platform will enable customers to instantly open an account using their national identification card, transfer up to Kshs 200,000 daily, purchase goods and services and make deposits through the PAYBILL No. 100400. In addition, the platform provides lifestyle value-add functionalities such as budgeting, real time settlement, and free limitless bank account access among others. In short, this platform affords our customers functionalities that will help them manage their bank accounts remotely,” Mr. Waweru explained.
To castigate fraud, the digital platform has multiple built-in security layers including an advanced account authentication feature to ensure secure transactions. With over 90 percent mobile phone penetration in Kenya and an estimated KShs 1.22 trillion worth of transactions in the Q2 of 2017, HFC seeks to be at the forefront in the next generation of financial services providers.