Kenya’s Maisha Microfinance Bank has partnered with Airtel Money to launch M-Fanisi – a savings and loan mobile money solution targeted at Airtel Money subscribers to help them save and borrow money via their mobile phones.

According to Prasanta Das Sarma, Managing Director of Airtel Kenya, “This partnership offers Airtel Money customers more for less, in that they can borrow affordably and save at competitive interest rates, in addition to enjoying the lowest charges on voice and data services in the market.”

M-Fanisi says it’s key competitive features include access to loans repayable within 7 days, 14 days and 30 days at an attractive one-off facility fee of 3%, 5% and 7.5% respectively with excise duty applicable on the fees.

Fixed deposit accounts can be opened for a period of 1 to 12 months and earn attractive interest of between 8.50% p.a. to 11.25% p.a. depending on period. Savings accounts opened earn interest of 7% p.a and money transfered in and out of the M-Fanisi to Airtel Money is FREE.

The two firms with developer Blue Sky Consultants says they have signed up over 50,000 accounts with over 20,000 loans accessed already at an average of up to 2000 loan applications per day but we are having a hard time believing them.

Airtel Money is technically dead and it won’t be of any use to Maisha Microfinance’s M-Fanisi. Airtel has just 1.7 million monthly active users out of its 6.3 million subscribers as at March 2017 down from 6.8 million subscriptions in December 2016 compared to Telkom Kenya’s 2.8 million and Safaricom’s 28.1 million customers according to a March 2017 quarterly report by Kenya Communications Authority. 

Instead of partnering with struggling Airtel, Maisha Microfinance would have just launched a smartphone app to take on Tala and Branch which are open to both Safaricom’s M-PESA and Airtel Money subscribers. The partnership is likely to turn out to be the most unfruitful decision in the micro-finances lifetime.

Maisha Microfinance Bank also opened its third Branch and rolled out of the M-Doh (doh is old school street slang for money) a mobile-based application that allows customers to carry out all their banking needs, including making deposits and transfers and paying utilities.