Watu Credit has come out to defend its business model and operations in Kenya and defended its Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) as a product that augments financial inclusion.

In a statement, the subsidiary of Watu Africa defended itself against reports in the social and mainstream media targeting asset financing solutions it offers across the country.

Appearing before the National Assembly Committee on Finance and National Planning on Friday morning, Watu CEO Andris Kaneps absolved the firm from allegations linking it to theft of motorcycles it has financed.

Watu Credit noted that it has been working closely with the police to deal decisively with the growing number of suspected organized criminals perpetuating theft of boda boda.

“From our current portfolio of 400,000 financed motorbikes, less than 100 bikes have been reported as lost,” the company said in the statement.

It added: “Where reports are made, we cooperate with investigative and insurance companies to ensure speedy resolution.”

It revealed, through its fleet management system and working with police, it tracked and recovered 96 of more than 100 motorcycles, which it had financed and were stolen in 2023.

“The missing bikes insured by several leading insurance providers have also been fully settled, allowing our clients to remain in business,” the Watu Africa subsidiary added.

Watu said it had financed more than 700,000 two and three-wheelers, and in the process empowered more than 2.1 million Kenyans to provide informal public transport solutions.

It revealed it currently has more than 96 per cent performing hire purchase portfolio with more than 70 per cent repeat clients, a testament of a growing demand for its products.

It also indicated that Watu Boda works with registered Boda Boda Riders Associations and more than 400 authorised dealers across Kenya to boost transparency and accountability.

Watu says it has paid over Sh5 billion in taxes, advanced 500,000 loans for mobility assets, 800,000 loans for smart connected devices, and employs 1,500 full-time employees directly.

Established in 2015, the asset financier is a subsidiary of Watu Africa, a multinational FinTech operating in Kenyan, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, DRC, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria.

And in response to the House Committee on Finance and National Planning, defended its pricing model and the interest it charges on its loans saying it ensure it offers competitive rates factoring commercial realities and risks involved in dealing with its target customers.

Watu Credit says it employs a risk-based pricing approach, which focuses on credit risks, costs and operational risks involved in boda boda business and the cost of capital in Kenya.

The asset financing solutions provider added that it had already established a nine-member team tasked with handling and promptly resolving any complaints raised by its customers.

Through its whistleblower programme, the firm has recorded the following as the top three categories accounting for 80 per cent of all complaints received through the platform so far:

• Delays on logbook transfer for customers who have completed loan repayments (48%).

• Stolen/lost assets complaints (18%).

• Repairs and mechanical issues (13%).