Money254: Story, Founders, Investors & Funding Rounds
Money254 is the only comprehensive integrated financial services marketplace in Kenya.
Launched in April 2021, Money254 is a financial services comparison platform, making it easier for users to find, compare and apply for financial products that match both their needs and eligibility.
In response to the decades-old problem of low financial sector transparency, Money254 aggregates the Kenyan market in a single financial product database from where customers can search, compare, understand, and purchase.
Their mobile web app localizes global UX best practices to provide financial tools in an easy-to-access format.
Additionally, their mission is to enable consumers in Kenya to make better financial decisions by creating transparency and equal access to financial and insurance product information.
Money254 is a new platform that wants to help you make the most out of the money you have.
They’ve created a simple, fast, and secure way to find and compare the best financial and insurance products relevant to you.
Therefore, you no longer need to download several lending apps, wait in bank branch queues or make calls to different financial institutions to figure out which products you’re eligible for and on what terms because their team of experts has already done that for you.
They’ve read through tariff guides, reviewed terms and conditions, and gone over countless apps to aggregate the Kenyan financial market into a single searchable financial product database.
All of the product information provided on their platform is collected from the financial providers featured on the website and objectively reviewed by their team.
In addition, a guided search helps you find the right products quickly and intuitive filters make it easier to compare them on the terms that matter most to you.
They have combined this information with expert blogs and product guides to make sure you have all of the information you need to understand and grow your money.
On top of that, they will never charge you for accessing financial product information on Money254, and never mark up the price of a product or share your data with any third party without your permission since their platform is secure and transparent.
The platform launched with all of the best unsecured personal loans available from established providers in Kenya.
They will also be adding new products and features to the website to make it easier for you to also compare savings, insurance, investment, and credit card opportunities.
Over time, they will be building out budgeting, loan calculators, and other money management tools to better support your daily financial management.
Whether you are an established professional, a student beginning your financial journey or you are looking to maximize your hustle, Money254 helps you make more confident financial decisions.
How it Works
A personal loan is money borrowed from a financial or lending institution to be used for personal reasons. While some personal loans are provided for specific use cases, many have no restrictions.
Loan costs vary from lender to lender, and you can use Money254’s free personal loans search to compare different loans and see their true costs to make the best decision for you.
The speed at which a loan is approved depends on the type of lender and facility requested. Some digital lenders can approve loans in less than one hour while many commercial banks can take up to five days.
Digital lenders, Commercial banks, Microfinance banks, and SACCOs all offer unsecured loans in Kenya. These lenders have different product features with varying eligibility requirements.
There are lots of different types of loans for various purposes. Before choosing a loan you should make sure you understand what you need the loan for and how long you’ll need it.
This can help you decide which type of financial institution and facility you should look at.
However, Credit history requirements vary among financial institutions. Some lenders accept only borrowers with good credit; others will loan to those who have defaulted on a previous loan in the past.
Unsecured loans are a type of loan that does not require any collateral.
Many people associate unsecured loans with app loans, Microfinance loans, and M-Pesa loans however many commercial banks also offer unsecured loans. All of the personal loans currently available on Money254 are unsecured.
A business loan is a form of credit offered by various types of lenders for businesses.
The level of personal liability business owners have for business loans depends on the type of business registration they have.
Business loans are judged based on the business’s performance mainly. Sometimes the individual’s financial status and credit history will also be required, depending on the business’s registration status.
Business loans are offered by a wide range of institutions in Kenya, from digital lenders to SACCOs, Microfinance institutions, and Commercial banks.
These institutions will offer different products depending on the stage your business is at and the use case of the loan your business is looking for.
The type of business loan you qualify for is largely dependent on whether your business is formally registered with either a business permit, certificate of registration, or incorporation.
The second most important factor is how long your business has been in operation.
If your business is not formally registered with any of the above documents then your business will only qualify for personal loans.
Additionally, Business loans can be used for lots of different use cases.
General business loans can often be used for any use case within your business unless stated otherwise in the terms and conditions. Make sure that the loan duration, price, and amount match what you need the loan for before taking it.
Getting auto/car financing or simply a car loan involves taking out a loan to buy a new or used car and then repaying the lender with interest over time.
If you wish to finance your vehicle, you will need to shop around for a while to get a good deal.
Typically, you are either going to ask your friends, colleagues, or family members about the lenders they have had an experience with if this is your first time, or you will visit the physical branches of these lenders to get the details in person.
The third option is researching online and seeing what different lenders are offering by reading through their websites and arriving at one that you think best fits your needs.
This process may end up being a little time-consuming and not as productive if you are not well-versed in what to look for.
Luckily, there is an even more simplified process where you can go on a single website where all the car finance providers are listed and easily compare lenders, identify the best fit, and apply for an auto loan from the comfort of your couch.
This way you can know how much you can borrow, what interest rate you will pay, and the repayment duration lenders are willing to provide you.
You will realize the cost of the same amount of loans can vary massively from one lender to another.
In addition to auto loan payments, other expenditures such as fuel, maintenance, insurance, and parking come with owning a new or used vehicle.
Your monthly financing payment should fit inside your budget while paying off the loan as quickly as feasible.
You have a few options when looking for a car loan; let’s go over the most common ones:
To begin, a bank is an example of a financial organization where you might get a loan directly. If you presently work with a bank or have a long-standing relationship with them, have a fairly high monthly income that is deposited through the bank, and does not have a history of defaulting on loans, this alternative may be more appealing to you.
Banks typically may favor consumers with good credit and have strict requirements. A bank car loan may have fairly steep minimum eligibility requirements, but it may have a lower interest rate.
A car loan can also be obtained through a microfinance institution that has less strict application procedures, although it may attract a fairly higher interest rate as compared to banks. And if speed is your priority, you are often going to get the entire process completed typically faster than with banks.
Any financial institution you choose to borrow money from becomes your lienholder. Simply explained, a lienholder is a loan provider who has a legal claim on your financed vehicle.
Because the lienholder is financing the loan, they have a legal stake in the vehicle until the debt is fully paid off.
The most significant difference between the application process at an MFI compared to a bank is that MFIs will accept M-PESA statements as a way of showing credit eligibility while banks do not.
The second difference is that MFIs can make the process noticeably faster from application to disbursement as compared to commercial banks.
Some microfinance institutions can also offer Car Financing with no CRB checks or for individuals with bad credit, making them more flexible than banks.
When you repay your car loan in full, NTSA will get a lien release document from your lender and the vehicle’s logbook will subsequently be updated to show that you are the only owner and handed over to you.
If you do not make your payments on schedule, your lender may repossess your vehicle.
When you decide to take out an auto loan, you should grasp the consequences of your lender’s financial commitment since you won’t be the only one who has a stake in your vehicle.
A logbook loan is a type of loan that uses your motor vehicle as security – a car, van, tractor, or motorbike.
It allows you to borrow an agreed amount from the lender against the value of your vehicle. In return, the vehicle owner is temporarily transferred into joint ownership with the lender until you fully repay the loan plus interest.
To secure the loan, you provide the lender with the vehicle ownership documents – the logbook. During the loan period, you can continue using the vehicle normally.
However, a logbook loan should not be confused with a vehicle loan (asset financing).
A vehicle loan is a loan that allows you to finance the purchase of a vehicle (if you can’t afford it or are not willing to purchase it in cash).
In contrast, a logbook loan allows you to take a loan using an existing vehicle as collateral.
Logbook loans are offered by a wide range of microfinance institutions (MFIs) and are also beginning to be offered by some commercial banks. Many of these MFIs have branches all across Kenya.
In addition to the quoted interest rate on the loan, other common fees to have in mind include:
- Processing Fee (2.5% and above depending on the lender)
- Valuation (Charged upfront before the loan is approved. Note if the loan is not approved, the valuation fee is not refundable)
- Logbook Search + Discharge (fees associated with the National Transport Authority (NTSA) search and transfer)
- Car Tracker (this must always be fitted at the borrower’s expense)
- Comprehensive insurance cover – if your car only has the basic third-party insurance policy, you will need to take a comprehensive cover at your own cost before you can qualify for a logbook loan.
These are the common fees across all lenders, however, some firms have additional fees, such as legal fees.
Although a logbook loan might come in handy when you need it, they carry a few risks and may not be your first option when you are looking to borrow urgently. The risks include:
Logbook loans may charge a higher interest rate than other personal loan types, potentially making them some of the most expensive loans in the market today.
As such, you might need to dig a lot deeper in your pocket to repay the loan.
That said, a logbook loan may be the only option for someone to get at least more than Ksh 50,000 in under 24 hours if they do not have a relationship with a lender for at least 6 months.
One of the quickest loan options is a digital loan. But the amounts start from as low as Ksh500 and take you a while to raise your limit.
So, if you do not have a bank account with an appropriate balance for about six months, are not a Sacco member, do not have a big loan limit with a digital lender, etc, a logbook loan may be the fastest way to get a large amount of money.
Like any other secured loan, the lender has the right to repossess the collateral if you default on your repayments. This is because the minute you sign the loan agreement, you temporarily jointly own the vehicle with the lender.
This means that the lender has the bill of sale to your car and the right to repossess the vehicle if you fail to repay the loan – If you miss payments for a predetermined number of successive months.
If you feel like you are struggling to repay, you can always reach out to your lender and work with them on a repayment plan to avoid losing your car.
The lender has the right to charge you a penalty if you miss a payment. This is to cover for the inconveniences of the repayments missed.
To find out the rates for the penalty, ensure to carefully read the fine print on the loan agreement before you sign.
A savings account is an interest-earning account within a commercial bank or other regulated financial institution, such as a Microfinance bank or a deposit-taking SACCO. Savings accounts are known for their flexibility.
You can always access your money at any time with a savings account. However, depending on the account terms you are penalized for withdrawing your money, usually by the institution withholding an interest payment.
If you want flexibility, choose an account that has unlimited or monthly withdrawals without getting penalized.
Different savings accounts pay interest on your savings at different intervals, this is usually either monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually.
While the difference is often marginal, the more frequently your bank pays interest, the more money you will earn on your savings.
This is because the interest payments received add to your previous balance, creating a higher amount for your next interest payment to be based on. This is called compounding interest.
While rates don’t tend to change as fast as other alternative products, savings account rates can still be updated at any time by a financial institution.
A personal current account is an account offered by Commercial Banks, Microfinance Banks, and SACCOs.
It allows a customer to easily withdraw and deposit money and to make transactions using cheques, debit cards, or electronic payment methods.
It is rare for a current account to offer interest on the money in your account.
A maintenance fee is a fee charged by a financial institution to cover costs associated with maintaining the account. Maintenance fees are usually charged every month and are auto-deducted from your account.
A ledger fee is a fee levied on entries (transactions) carried out on a current account.
It can either be charged monthly or per transaction depending on the account chosen. For some accounts, ledger fees are only charged if you drop below a minimum operating balance.
A credit card is a physical card issued by a bank that allows you to make payments using credit, as opposed to using funds sitting in your account.
Credit cards come with revolving credit limits against which a cardholder can make purchases.
Once a limit has been reached the holder will have to pay back some of the credit before using the card to make further payments.
Credit cards and debit cards look nearly identical in appearance and both are used to make payments for goods or services.
Debit cards however allow you to only spend the money already in your transactional account. Credit cards allow you to borrow money from a financial institution to purchase items.
The interest-free period on a credit card is the number of days the cardholder can make use of the credit without having to pay any interest.
This is usually somewhere between 30-55 days. If you pay off your credit card balance before the end of the interest-free period, you don’t have to pay any interest on the amount you spent on your card that month.
Sometimes it can be a challenge to pay off your full credit card balance every month.
The minimum repayment amount is the lowest possible amount you can pay each month to avoid receiving late fees from the financial institution.
You will then be charged interest on the remainder of the monthly balance that you do not pay off.
The credit card annual fee is the amount of money paid every year to make use of the credit card.
This varies significantly depending on the card selected and should not be confused with the credit card joining fee, which is only paid once upon sign-up for the card.
Sometimes, credit cards with higher annual fees have lower monthly interest rates or better rewards provided on your purchases.
On Money254 you can easily sort products based on the Annual Fee to find one that works for you.
A credit limit is a maximum amount you can borrow, or spend, on your credit card.
As you use your card, the amount of each purchase is subtracted from your credit limit.
And the number you’re left with is known as your available credit, or the amount of money you can still charge to your card.
As you pay off your balance, the amount of credit available to you increases once more based on your credit limit.
While it’s true, there are some eligibility criteria you need to meet to qualify for a credit card, this may not be as strenuous as you might think.
Credit cards are available to the majority of people who earn more than Ksh20k per month and have a bank account.
Lorcan O Cathain
Lorcan O Cathain is the CEO at Money254.
He attended The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).
Investors & Funding Rounds
MIT Fintech Conference, Sherpa Africa Partners
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Fintech Conference named Kenyan startup Money254 as the grand prize winner of its 2022 Fintech Startup Pitch Competition.
The MIT Fintech Conference is one of the world’s largest student-led conferences, bringing together over 1,000 participants from over 60 countries to explore innovation and disruption in financial technology.
Money254 was chosen as one of eight startups to pitch at the event, ultimately being named the winner and taking home US$30,000 in prize money.
Money254 is backed by a host of international and local investors, including Enza Capital, Perivoli Innovations, Sherpa Capital, and Ground Squirrel Ventures.
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