CBK has frozen all digital lenders without operating licenses and only 10 out of 288 applicants have licenses to operate in Kenya.
CBK had earlier announced that the translon period for all unregulated digital lending should apply for a license by September 1st 2022.
The move follows the CBK Amendment Bill, 2021 which was signed into law by the former President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta to let all digital lenders be licensed by CBK. This meant that the CBK would police online lenders, and there were a ton of regulations that they had to subscribe to.
The period required all digital lenders (unregulated) to apply for a license within a period of six months following the publication of the CBK Regulations.
The regulations were published on March 18, 2022, to give lenders enough time to apply for licenses as well as adjust to the new regulations.
Out of the 288 applications received, CBK has only approved 10 with the hope for more approvals once their applications are reviewed.
In the meantime, CBK has asked all companies that have not been named on the list to stop their operations until their licenses are reviewed.
“We urge these applicants to submit the pending documentation expeditiously to enable the completion of the review of their applications. All other unregulated DCPS that did not apply for licensing must cease and desist from conducting digital credit business,” says CBK in a statement.
It worked with the applicants over the last six months during the review process. The CBK also engaged other regulators, including the office of the Data Protection Commissioner to make sure the regulations were followed to the later.
Ceres Tech Limited, Getcash Capital Limited, Giando Africa Limited, trades as Flash Credit Africa
Jijenge Credit Limited, Kweli Smart Solutions Limited, Mwanzo Credit Limited, MyWagepay Limited, Sevi Innovation Limited, Rewot Civo Limited and Sokohela Limited are the 10 lucky lenders that have received the approval to operate under the new regulations.
Some of the new regulations to be implemented under the new licensing require that no person shall establish or carry out digital credit business in Kenya or otherwise hold himself out as carrying out digital credit business unless licensed under the amendment.
Any regulator who contravenes the provisions of the preceding regulation commits an offence and shall be liable upon conviction to a fine of five hundred thousand shillings or imprisonment for a term of two years or to both.
Any person who was at the commencement of these regulations conducting digital credit business which is not regulated under any other written law shall apply to the CBK for a license within six months of publication of these regulations.
The new regulators will also be required to have a physical office and shall not be opened, relocated, or closed without the prior written approval of the Central Bank according to the new bill.
The operators have also been cautioned against putting in place policies that breach the confidentiality of customer information.
An online credit provider shall not share customer information with any person without the customer’s consent.
The new laws also note that no director, officer, employee, or agent of a digital credit provider shall during, or upon, and after the termination of engagement or employment with the digital credit provider (except in the proper course of his duty and or with the digital credit provider’s written consent) divulge or make use of any secrets, copyright material, or any correspondence, accounts of the digital credit provider or its customers.
Digital credit providers shall ensure that the customer’s consent is obtained before the submission or sharing of credit information with a credit reference bureau. During the linking process, customers may give consent through oral, print, or electronic means, subject to the digital credit provider’s satisfaction as to the electronic consent’s authenticity.
A digital credit provider who furnishes negative information to a bureau with respect to a customer shall, in writing or through electronic means, notify the customer of the intention to submit the negative information at least thirty days before submitting the negative information to the bureau or within a such shorter period as the contract between the digital credit provider and the customer may provide.
A digital credit provider who has furnished credit information to a bureau shall, within thirty days from the date the information was furnished to a bureau, notify the customer that the customer’s credit information has been forwarded to the bureau.
This has been an issue for the majority of Kenyans who have been harassed by debt collectors, some of whom go to the extent of insulting them or calling members of their families to shame them for not repaying loans in a timely manner.
CBK has further cautioned digital lenders and creditors against the use of threat, violence or other criminal means to physically harm the person, or his reputation or property and the use of obscene or profane language.