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Equity Bank finally rolls out thin SIM service

EQUITELNAIROBI, Kenya, July 20- Equity Bank Group has finally launched its thin SIM card to offer voice, SMS, data and mobile-to-bank money transfer services.

Transfer of money within Equity Bank will be free and will only attract a fee while transferring from Equity Bank account to other banks.

Equity Group CEO James Mwangi says voice communications will Sh4 across all networks and one shilling for SMS, while mobile money transfer services will be free.

“The free money transfer services is like Internet banking services. What we are saying is why should the low income people be paying while the rich don’t pay so that when you transfer money from your account to your mothers account there will be no charge,” Mwangi said during the launch on Monday.

“With Equitel you will be able to send money to any telecom, bank account or mobile phone in the country,” Mwangi added.

Equitel is operating under Equity bank’s subsidiary Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) with infrastructure support provided by Airtel.

A new thin SIM card will go for Sh600 for new customers with no accounts at Equity Bank and who may be required to open accounts with the bank to enjoy the banking services. However the other normal cards will be given for free.

The thin SIM will start with the prefix of 0764 after the bank hit one million users under the 0763 prefix during the pilot project which was on the normal SIM cards.

READ: Government backs thin SIM technology

In partnership with switches in the market which include Kenswitch, Paynet and Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) customers can instantly send up to Sh1 million to all banks for Sh200 all days of the week.

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“With the use of the switches that exist in the country, you can now transfer money from one bank to another even on a Sunday. Transfers of money have always been restricted to during the morning hours when clearing house is open. But now we have bypassed clearing because of this interconnection,” Mwangi explained.

The launch of the thin SIM comes after a long struggle which went up to the courts after complaints that use of the cards in the market was not safe.

Safaricom had raise concerns that the use of the thin SIM by placing it on top of customers’ existing SIM cards would interfere with privacy.

However Equity Bank won the battle after being cleared by the High Court in May this year.

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