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Kenya's lack of data access hinders innovation

Kenya's lack of data access hinders innovation

Kenya could miss the benefits of FinTech innovation if it fails to develop and implement policies to improve access to data and protection.

Julius Kipng'etich, regional CEO at Jubilee Holdings, said that data held by government could be integrated to offer identity verification within applications used in finance and insurance.

Kipng'etich says the telecoms industry has huge volumes of customer data which remains untapped. "We need to have rules on how the government and private bodies can make this data available. Most organisations have data that could unlock great potential for the market, but they horde it."

The credit reference bureau (CRB), authorised by the Central Bank of Kenya, is an example of an aggregated information portal that is used to verify the financial status of consumers applying for loans.

Kipng'etich said his company plans to delve deeper into data analytics to push its business agenda. This is after the company launched mobile application platforms to enhance its business.

"We (Jubilee Insurance) want to dive into data analytics more that we have ever done," he added, "We would like to unlock insights on our customers and the market at large."

Despite the data access challenges, the insurance sector has largely embraced IT.

For example, the Integrated Motor Insurance Data System (IMIDS) will help curb fraud in motor insurance. As of January this year, various insurance companies are feeding their data into the system which will be shared industry wide.

While President Uhuru Kenyatta approved the Access to Information Act in 2016, it could not be fully implemented because a commission to draft the rules governing data sharing had not yet been established.

The government is already using some of its citizen data in its internal systems. For example, the eCitizen uses the citizen registry to confirm identity, while the soon-to-be digitised land registry process will also leverage citizen registry to verify identity.

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