Safaricom’s Fuliza: What it is and why it may come in handy someday

Kufuliza is a long-running joke on Kenya’s social media space. Fuliza, a product of Safaricom that is tied to its mobile money platform M-Pesa should not be thought of the same way.

What is it and who can access it?

It is an overdraft facility that has been a long time in the making and which was announced back in November 2018 but whose rollout couldn’t start immediately until the necessary regulatory approvals had been obtained from the Central Bank of Kenya. Like the M-Pesa service it complements, it is a financial product with a technology twist (that buzzword, fintech), after all.

With the red tape out of the way, Fuliza is now available to all registered M-Pesa users with active Safaricom line. That’s it. That is the only requirement.

How does it work?

The premise of Fuliza is simple. It is the Okoa jahazi of M-Pesa. Safaricom subscribers would know better.

Safaricom does have an existing credit facility, M-Shwari. Fuliza complements M-Shwari but it is not a loan facility like it. What it does is just kick in when you’re at a supermarket till or when you’re shopping online or at some other place where Lipa na M-Pesa Pay Bill or Buy Goods (Till Number) is in use and the money in your M-Pesa account/wallet which is what you are going to use to settle whatever payment you need to make, isn’t enough. Based on whatever limit you qualify for when you opt in to Fuliza (more on that in a moment).

Value

How many times have you held off buying something because the money in your M-Pesa wasn’t enough? What if you had some leeway to proceed with the purchase and pay later? That, as highlighted above, is probably why Fuliza will come in handy someday.

READ:  5 Android security features meant to keep users safe on the platform

Better yet, how many times have you been short of money and needed to use some service to lend you money so that you can buy something – via M-Pesa, no less – and incurring unnecessary transaction charges along the way? What if you could just be facilitated to buy whatever it is you were keen on buying or paying for whatever bill you needed to pay without involving so many other parties and complicating the process?

One more thing: you can even send money, at least as far as the FAQs posted by Safaricom are concerned.

What you can’t do, though, is be able to withdraw any money. That’s because there’s no money in the first place unlike in M-Shwari where some cash is advanced to you.

How to access it

Even though a previous version of the mySafaricom app hinted at Fuliza being available through it, before the feature disappeared (we hope it will make its way back soon), it’s not there. So, how, then, does one get to access it and opt in?

Simple, the 234 shortcode. Simply dial *234# and select the Fuliza option (currently, as at the time of publishing this, it’s option 0).

Limits

Sure, with Fuliza you can afford to buy items with money that you would otherwise be short of but just how  far can you go? There are limits and these are communicated to you (via SMS) the moment your request to join Fuliza is accepted. One can enquire what their limit is at any time by dialing *234#. According to Safaricom, this limit is reviewed every 3 weeks.

The interesting thing about the set limit is that it is the determinant as to how many times one can go over the amount of money currently in their M-Pesa account. For instance, if your limit is Kshs 7,000 like me at this time, you can buy an item worth Kshs 3,000 (assuming that that is all you have left in your M-Pesa) and let Fuliza cover the rest. You can then still go ahead and pay a bill worth another Kshs 3,000 since you’re still within your set limit.

READ:  Google embraces the notch in Android P, here's everything else the new version of our favourite OS is bringing

As is to be expected, Fuliza is also limited to M-Pesa’s Kshs 70,000 per transaction limit.

Fees

Of course, Fuliza is not free (it’s free for a month at launch for transactions up to Kshs 100). There’s a 1% “access fee” applicable and a recurring maintenance fee for every day that the outstanding Fuliza balance remains unsettled (see the table below for reference).

Band (Kshs)Tariff (Kshs)
0-100One time fee of Kshs 2
101-5005 per day
501-100010 per day
1001-150020 per day
1501-250025 per day
2501-7000030 per day

Repayment

Money deposited into one’s M-Pesa account automatically goes towards settling the money they owe Fuliza. Just like the way Okoa jahazi works.

Should one fail to settle their owed Fuliza money after a month (i.e. 30 days), they lose access to the service until they have fully settled the outstanding amount.

Have something that you believe I need to have a look at? Hit me up: echenze [at] androidkenya.com