Monday, December 24, 2012

Credit Scoring the Informal Worker

Documenting the informal economy has been a challenge, the importance of which is increasingly being seen in recent banking, real estate, consumption and other economic statistics that, thanks to data from Telco's about m-pesa and other money transfer systems, shows up as a grey ocean of money flowing (daily) through the economy that amounts to a significant fraction of Kenya's GDP. 

But how about the users who are moving this money? Can they derive credit worthiness value from  this information that is being captured? i.e. These are the self-employed workers, and people without payslips or steady banking habits, but who have some scanty history with banks, savings societies, church groups, or utility companies. 

But now with services such as SelfCare from Safaricom, one can see three months of M-Pesa transactions – and in the last three months, funding a project outside Nairobi, I’ve deposited about $3400, sent about  $2800, withdrawn $200, received $150, and bought $100 of airtime.

All that should qualify for more than a Khs 2,000 ($25) instant loan from Safaricom/CBA's, M-Shwari, but since it's a new system, it may be too early to determine the credit worthiness of a borrower, using their  M-Pesa history alone. Selfcare could, with time, become more useful, allowing users to export or print statements,  older than three months, and other financial institutions to access & review the data  - and with that, a hawker, taxi driver, or other self-employed worker, without a formal banking history could generate a decent, mature,  credit position to discuss with a new bank. 

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