How Kenyans are losing money from unlicensed online SACCOs and investment schemes

According to information from the Kenya Union of Savings and Credit Cooperatives Limited (KUSCCO), saccos and digital deposit systems are enrolling users online and starting to save through mobile money platforms, with promising attractive returns.

In Kenya, the Central Bank of Kenya and the Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority (SASRA) are the sole licensing authorities for deposit taking institutions in Kenya.

Below are some of the online applications that have already been reported by KUSCCO.

For example, Milazi describes itself as an online cooperative investment company where investors register online and deposit money using mobile money.

Homepesa Sacco, which was not licensed by SASRA, accepted refundable deposits. It was originally registered to undertake back office operations only.

Homepesa Wallet allows you to deposit and withdraw money, anywhere and anytime. Deposits can be made via M-Pesa and credit cards while withdrawals are made via M-Pesa and bank transfers“, described the sacco on its website.

Zeepo, a mobile money and agent banking network, also offers customers an option to save through a mobile app or by signing up through the web.

Save, borrow, pay, transfer and insure all in one place – on mobile or at an outlet near you, so life doesn’t stop because of closing time, processes tedious or administrative formalities,says Zeepo on its website.

J-Hela, which describes itself as a mobile SACCO platform, also accepts refundable deposits without a SASRA license.

J-Hela is owned by Patrick Wainaina, the managing director of Jungle Nuts, a macadamia nut processor in Thika. Wainaina is in the running to be the governor of Kiambu on an independent ticket.

Withdrawal is from J-Hela to M-Pesa using J-Hela withdrawal procedures. There is an upcoming service to withdraw from J-Hela at ATM. No limited amount when withdrawing but membership fee of Sh60 remains the minimum balance“, Indicates the platform on its portal.

However, Milazi, Zeepo, J-Hela and Homepesa Sacco are not part of the latest list of authorized SACCOs issued by SASRA.