It is death by suicide that jolted Kenya’s top financial regulator and sparked one of the most compelling moral conundrums for the fintech-fuelled digital lending craze in the country.
The shocking revelation by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) last week that a middle-aged man took his life after failing to withstand harassment and public shaming by an unnamed digital lending application, has ignited debate on the radical evolution of the many platforms that disburse loans via mobile phones.
“In November last year, a lady came to the Central Bank to explain to us that her husband had committed suicide after getting involved with one of these lenders,” she said.
CBK Deputy Governor Sheila M’Mbijjewe revealed the incident, which was reported to the regulator by the distressed family of the victim.
“What this lender did is that when her husband was unable to pay the debt through the contact list of her husband, [the lender] started sending messages to all of them including his mother, his grandmother and his aunt,” she said.
Days after the Central Bank deputy boss made the revelation, more Kenyans have come out publicly to tell of their harrowing experiences in the hands of digital lenders.
Many who sought anonymity for fear of being humiliated further likened the apps to modern day loan sharks, which can wreck people’s lives in case of default.
Loan sharks are criminals who charge extortionist interest rates…