The single source of truth about Kenyans : collateral mysteries, credit information and Safaricom

Monday, 31 July, 2017 - 15:00

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This paper examines the recent history of population registration and credit surveillance in Kenya.  It argues that the events taking place there are important because they mark out the development of new kinds of administratively created informational collateral which, for the first time, make very large numbers of people available as commercially viable prospects for debt.  The history of bank-supported population registration in Kenya reflects a longer history of coercive forms of population registration, close and varied links with South Africa, and its special place as a global laboratory for fintech experiments, but its real significance lies in the development of entirely new,  and revolutionary, forms of data-driven personal collateral.   The Kenyan story also shows that the different forms of collateral are contradictory and that they pit the interests and administrative requirements of the banks and telecom companies against each other.

This paper has been published.

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