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If you have used most of the loan apps currently available to Kenyans using Android smartphones like Tala (formerly Mkopo Rahisi), Branch and others then one thing stands out: they have easy interfaces that provide a lot of useful information to their users about the loans themselves, the interest, the instalments and the due date. M-Shwari, Safaricom’s own loan service has been lagging behind when it comes to this. While it uses the reliable SMS reminders to let users know when their due date is near or when they are defaulting on their loans, it’s just not enough.

All Safaricom users can access a lot of information about their subscription using the mySafaricom app, they can look PayBill numbers and check the M-PESA charges using the Safaricom M-Ledger app, they can confirm the recipient’s name using the Hakikisha feature or make sure they get the recipient’s number right using third-party apps like Tuma Pesa. What about M-Shwari? Honestly, other than going back to your old texts, not so much.

Until you meet My-Shwari.

I bumped into My-Shwari when doing my many daily rounds on the Google Play Store trying out new things like I always do and we hit it off immediately. I am a frequent user of M-Shwari’s loan facilities and the app, from the onset, addresses my needs as a user.

Like the M-Ledger application in its previous form, My-Shwari is not tied to your M-PESA account or Safaricom line in any way. It simply works with the information you provide to it. In this case, it scans your SMS inbox for any M-Shwari messages and tries to make sense of the data. The end result is some presentable simple tables offering a quick look into your debt status. This is in the form of monthly and annual summaries of your M-Shwari transactions including a history of those transactions.

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Its most useful feature may be the constant count down to the due date. It is so easy to get carried away thinking that the 30-day grace period Safaricom gives M-Shwari users is a lot of time. My-Shwari not only shows you when you borrowed whatever amount but also the outstanding amount itself and the number of days remaining to the due date.

It also shows users the facility fee that Safaricom charges (which is simply the 7.5% monthly interest). Users can even turn to the loan calculator to see how much they would need to pay back when they borrow certain amounts.

Other than catering to loanees, the app is also great for everyone who uses M-Shwari for its other function: savings. It is a great way to check on one’s savings and keep track.

Many may not notice but you can never check your M-Shwari loan limit or balance when your M-PESA account balance is nil. This is because Safaricom charges Kshs 1 for every M-PESA enquiry you make and the same applies to M-Shwari. Having an application that can remember this exact information thanks to the SMSs that Safaricom sends comes in handy more so when you are no longer in possession of such messages. Since it reads your M-Shwari messages, it will also show your M-PESA account balance.

My-Shwari’s biggest selling point is its functionality but that does not come at a sacrifice to its looks. The interface, while basic, won’t be the one thing that you keep thinking about since it’s just fine and you won’t get lost navigating from one point to the other. All options can be accessed from the slide out menu.

I wouldn’t want a third party to keep details of all my M-Shwari transactions so I am actually happy that My-Shwari does not attempt to do just that. I’m just fine checking the statements that Safaricom sends to my email inbox monthly or the detailed summaries M-Ledger comes up with.

Go on, give My-Shwari a try. Don’t worry that your significant other will now have it easy catching up with the many debts you’ve been accumulating behind their back as the app does let you set a password to keep unwanted hands and eyes off your confidential data.

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