NAIROBI, September 3 – Equity Bank Wednesday took competition in the banking sector a notch higher by launching mobile phone banking service for their customers.
The bank’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) James Mwangi said the service dubbed ‘Eazzy 24/7 Benki Yangu Mkononi’ is expected to revolutionalise the industry by providing banking services to majority of people with no access to them.
The technology was set up at a cost of Sh1 billion.
Their 2.7 million customers will be able to perform 15 functionalities such as access their bank accounts, transfer funds, top up air time and pay their utility bills at the touch of a button, the CEO said during the launch.
“By making the cell phone a branch, we will be able to take banking to the last mile,” Mwangi noted of the service, which will be available throughout the day and night.
Noting that there were about 14 million people with mobile phones, he projected that the future of banking would be built on leveraging on existing technology in order to make it more inclusive by bringing on board people in the low income segment of the population as well as those in remote areas.
Account holders will be able to access all these services at a cost of between Sh10 and Sh30, which is free to register.
“This technology will make banking relatively cheap. We believe that we will be able to enlarge the banking space in terms of convenience, access and unexploited capacity across existing infrastructure,” Mwangi added.
It will also decongest the banking halls and save customers the time spent in queues.
“This solution is a step towards a cashless economy as it provides the customer with instant options on the phone, thus reducing the risk of handling cash in business transactions,” the CEO boasted.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) Governor Prof Njuguna Ndung’u hailed the bank for the innovation and urged others to come up with products that eliminate the barriers to entry into financial systems.
He assured the players of the CBK’s commitment to create an enabling regulatory environment that would support their goals.
“With only approximately 4.5 million Kenyans with bank accounts, the new solution offers an avenue to push forward the access frontier in Kenya and it will bring more Kenyans into banking solutions,” the Governor observed.
Prof Ndungu reiterated that the country would not realise its objectives as outlined in Vision 2030 if a majority of Kenyans remained at the bottom of the ‘economic pyramid’ and lacked access to financial services.
“By accessing financial services easily and affordably, Kenyans will be better equipped to support their enterprises,” he said.
“The success of the small and medium enterprise sector undoubtedly lies at the heart of the achievement of Vision 2030.”