Users of KCB M-Pesa will now get top-up loans, enabling customers to borrow several times within the credit limit assigned to them without being required to first clear outstanding balances.

This is an upgrade to the old KCB-M-Pesa system where borrowers could only take another loan after clearing the outstanding balances.

The top-up capability is a first in the highly competitive micro mobile lending industry.

The migration to the new platform last month, KCB said in a statement Tuesday, has also enabled customers to roll over their loans to the next month, a feature that was missing on the old KCB M-Pesa platform.

“We are continually re-imagining digital finance. There is need for us to embrace innovation and digitisation beyond our current realm of operations,” said KCB Group chief executive Joshua Oigara in the statement.

KCB M-Pesa is among a raft of commercial banks-backed micro-lending apps such as Commercial Bank of Africa’s M-Shwari, Equity’s Equitel, Co-operative’s M-Co-op Cash, Barclays’ Timiza and HF’s Whizz that are advancing millions of shillings daily in instant mobile loans.

The competition has tightened with proliferation of stand-alone mobile loan apps such as San Francisco-headquartered Branch International, Tala Kenya and Opera Group-owned OKash which are also advancing low-value loans to millions of banked and unbanked customers daily.

The popularity of mobile loans has been helped by suspension of unsecured personal loans by most commercial banks on the back of September 2016 legal ceilings on loan charges.

The growth has also benefitted from a swelling number of persons engaging in sports betting who are also attracted by the instant low-values offered.

The mobile micro-lending segment is, as a result, increasingly becoming lucrative for banks and non-bank firms which have raised billions of shillings for lending, perhaps encouraged by lack of caps on loan charges, unlike conventional bank loans.

KCB said its customer base has expanded to 14 million from 4 million since the March 2015 launch of KCB-M-Pesa platform in partnership with Safaricom.

The revamped platform, which also offers enhanced savings products, comes with increased processing speeds, KCB said.