Kenya's Helb to issue e-cards

Money Transfer

Kenya's Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) has partnered with a number of banks to develop prepaid electronic cards for disbursing funds to students and tracking of borrowers' future bank transactions.

The board has joined forces with Family Bank, KCB Group, Chase Bank, National Bank, Equity Bank, Jamii Bora Bank and NIC Bank to launch the e-cards, which come with tap-and-go payment near field communication (NFC) features to allow students to pay for tuition, upkeep, books and stationery, while also building financial profiles of Helb loan beneficiaries.

'We (also) want to start building the student credit history which will help the student as they build their credit scores for purposes of future borrowings from financial institutions,' said Helb chief executive Charles Ringera.

'The card has e-wallets (such as) tuition, upkeep, books and stationery, therefore, money meant for school fees cannot be used for any other purpose.'

The card allows learners to receive their loans directly as e-money, withdraw cash from Family Bank ATMs and tap their cards on point of sale (PoS) terminals to pay for items and services on campus.

The board, in partnership with Family Bank and London-based payments firm sQuid, is currently piloting the technology at Kenya Methodist University (KeMu), while KCB Group is testing its cashless payment solution at Egerton University.

The cards will also be linked to the Visa and MasterCard network to allow loan beneficiaries to access funds from ATMs and shop for goods and services at retail stores.