I once queued for so long in a bank, that I had muscle spasms in places I never knew I had muscles. I had to resort to my grandmother’s recommendation of sipping boiled pawpaw leaves for almost a week just to alleviate the pain (not sure it even worked). So when news came in that there was a revamped app in town with the sole purpose of solving that problem, I just had to try it out. According to Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA), the CBA Loop app was created to provide a means for customers to skip the queues, red tape and monotony that comes with regular banking, the act of unbanking they called it.
The claim is that with just a tap of a button I should be able to send money, make payments, invest, save and seamlessly access loans on the CBA Loop app. I quickly downloaded it from the Google Play Store, the app is of moderate size at 11.46 Mbs, which is convenient even for those with limited phone memory.
The apps feature are within four main menus at found at the bottom of the screen; Loans, Payments, Analyse and Growth menus.
First off, only persons who are over 18 years of age can use this app and that includes using your identity card number for registration (you can use your ID or passport). One thing to note is that you also need to provide your KRA pin number to register if you don’t know it off-head you’d better look it up beforehand.
I quickly set up my account including security questions just in case I forgot my password, and almost immediately a pin to activate my account was sent to my phone together with an activation code that can be used to collect an ATM card (Loop Card) at a CBA Loop outlet of my choice. I was ready to get started.
The app contains a profile section where in addition to your personal details you can input your monthly incomes, the sector of employment (I reckon that this helps CBA in evaluating you loan credibility) and contact person in case of an emergency.
For those rainy days when the only thing that can bail you out is an emergency loan, or when your business badly needs a financial jump start, the CBA Loop app has a loans section. According to CBA, one can qualify for a loan of up to Ksh3 million in addition to a Ksh100, 000 overdraft limit, which is quite a high amount. Also, I found a clock-like tool that displays my credit score which indicates just how deep into the CBA loan cookie jar I am allowed to reach in.
The Payments menu is, without doubt, one of the app’s key features, it enables you to send money to a bank or mobile (either to another loop user which is free, via mobile money (Ksh38.5) or PesaLink (Ksh44), all at the click of a button. Additionally, if you are in business, or just need to send money to another bank account, the app provides the option of sending money via CBA (free), PesaLink (free), RTGS (Real Time Gross Settlement)-Ksh300 and EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer)-free.
I particularly liked this feature because it takes away the need to laboriously keep on remembering the PayBill numbers of all your service providers. The app has preloaded sections for the top service providers including DSTV, KPLC, GOTV, Nairobi Water, Jambo Jet etc. that you can make payments to without having to go fishing for PayBill numbers.
Also, in the same menu, you can purchase Safaricom, Airtel and Orange airtime at the click of a button. The app goes a step further in clearly displaying the transaction costs of using each of the services. One can save their most used PayBills as favourites for easier access.
I then landed on an app feature that might interest small business owners, parents or anyone who regularly has to make the same amount of money transfers to someone i.e. salary to an employee, pocket money to a brother/daughter in campus etc. It is also within the Payments menu as Debit Orders, this feature allows you to schedule frequent and automatic money transfers to a bank or mobile money account on selected dates.
Have you ever had those moments when you stare at your account balance wondering where all your money went? This, despite clearly remembering how just a few days prior, you marvelled at your fat bank balance. Well, the app’s Analyse menu makes financial management simpler, you can view and manage all accounts connected to your app, operational transactions, track your cash flow (money in and out, income vs expenditure) to know whether you are spending more than you earn or vice versa.
The prevalence of mobile phones has made banking more convenient than ever thought possible, however, if you have a finger too swift for your pocket to keep up with, you can easily lose track of your spending. That is precisely why I loved the app’s budgeting feature; a quick way to set a limit on expenditure.
You can budget for a variety of things on the app; from family to entertainment, personal care, shopping etc. and you will know the moment you draw near the end of that budget. For instance, if I am celebrating an achievement and have set my budget at Ksh1, 500, whenever I draw near my limit while transacting through the app or card, I will be notified. If you are an impulsive buyer (yours truly included), then this will be a feature after your own heart.
Loop Goals is one of the most interesting features I have seen so far in a finance app, why? For instance, I am planning to buy a camera for use for a certain farming project, I have challenged myself to do it within a year. If I input all this information on the Loop Goals, alongside my intended frequency of financial contributions towards this goal, the app automatically calculates how much I would need to save per month towards that and automatically deducts it from my account.
As it appears below, it seems I have to save Ksh8, 250 every month to achieve my camera target ( I guess that simply means no more vanilla-flavoured yoghurt drinks at ungodly hours for me anymore, well…maybe not), but whatever saving plan I settle on, at least I know it will be easier to make using the Loop Goals feature.
The Net Worth calculator is another fun feature I loved, it computes how much you own and how much you owe others, the difference of which is your net worth. Interestingly, as it stands I owe no one anything and I own nothing, not too bad eh!
Ever come across one of those piercing statements that leave you questioning your life goals, or at times questioning the speaker of those words; ‘Vijana wa siku hizi hawajui kusave’ (youth of these days don’t save) or ‘ pesa ni nyingi siku hizi’ loosely translated to there is a lot of money in the hands of people nowadays.
Well, until now, such assumptions (which largely influence financial behaviour) were up for endless debate and couldn’t objectively be used for decision making. However, the CBA Loop has a Community section where you can compare yourself in terms of income and spending against other people of matching age, income, gender, marital status or occupation.
This is a data-based opportunity to see how you compare with others in your demographic and whether you’d need to put measures to improve your financial condition or continue on the same path.
The financial calendar is like a financial map, it tells your financial story by letting you track all your transactions on a day to day basis. Click any day on the calendar and see everything that was transacted, put simply, it improves the experience and simplifies financial statements by presenting it as part of a calendar.
Additionally, if you want to go traditional, you can still generate a financial statement of all your transactions for a period of your choosing.
In case you get stuck, the app has a help tab at the top right-hand corner of the home page, where you can send a message to a customer care representative through a support ticket system, where every query you might raise is filed to be addressed by the Loop crew. Additionally, there is an Answers to Questions section that gives you access to answers to similar questions that have been asked before.
I liked that the CBA Loop app is very fast to load and feels light while surfing.
The Ksh3million loan limit and Ksh100, 000 overdraft facility is high especially considering it is being accessed through an app, additionally, it also makes the app attractive for business loans.
The financial management tools are comprehensive and a key differentiator, the budgeting and goal setting features are quite useful.
I found the CBA Loop app easy to use and navigate.
I enjoyed the simplicity in paying for services through PayBill (I don’t have to remember anything).
I liked the simplifying of my credit score in form of a clock with clear indications of the amounts that I could use.
Areas for Improvement
The app experience could be improved if the frequently asked questions section was accessible on the app instead of through the browser.
Additionally, having to confirm registration via email after a having done a text confirmation, feels like double the work.
You can load money into your CBA Loop account via M-Pesa PayBill No. 714777, with your mobile as the account number. In case of any challenges, a team dubbed the ‘Loop Crew’ can be reached on 0709714444/0730714444.
Thinking of saving more money for investments or just for that holiday or going back to school? A financial plan can help you meet your goals – Here is how you create a Financial Plan