News Column

Equity Rolls Out SIM Cards for Mobile Money Service

May 28, 2014

Constant Munda

EQUITY bank announced yesterday it will reduce cost of transferring money through mobile phones by up to half the prevailing average market rates when its service goes live in July.

Mobile money services will be rolled out before voice and data services which are also in the pipeline, the bank said when it made public its strategy of integrating its banking with telecommunications services.

It started market testing for the mobile banking platform yesterday by issuing SIM cards for its staff.

The bank is targeting an ambitious 10 million customers and has already set aside funds to facilitate its customers to acquire 10 million smartphones on credit payable in 36 months.

"We are starting with our 15,000 staff but come July every Equity customer should walk into any branch and obtain a SIM card," chief executive James Mwangi said. "All our efforts in the past failed because when a telecom comes in as a middleman it becomes almost impossible to offer these services at affordable rates. "

The bank will charge a fee of one per cent of total amount with a cap of Sh25 for transactions within its network.

Charges for sending money to other mobile networks, bank and payment services firms will however be higher depending on external fees, Mwangi said.

The mobile banking platform will be linked to its bank accounts, meaning one will have to become a customer with Equity to enroll.

Besides sending and receiving money, paying bills and topping up airtime, the product also allows customers to access all its services including loans, savings as well as custodial, investment, insurance and brokerage services.

Equity said it will be offering loans dubbed Eazzy at between one and two per cent interest a month on a minimum amount of Sh500 upwards based on customer's psychometric, statistical, mobile payment and airtime use scoring.

It further launched a code-based platform for prospective customers to open an account through their phones.

The bank's subsidiary, Finserve Africa, was licenced as a mobile virtual network operator last month after entering into partnership with Airtel Kenya which offers its dormant infrastructure at a variable fee based on transactions.

Airtel Kenya managing director Adil El Youssefi said the telco will get additional revenue from use of its infrastructure.

"This is the beginning of eliminating dominance in the industry by opening up the system for competition which is the practice world over," Yousefi said. "Its a win-win situation because the more transactions Equity has, the more revenue for us."

Equity has tapped former director general of the then CCK and also former MD of Telkom Kenya John Waweru as executive chairman of Finserve.

Waweru will work with an "a globally experienced team that has taken a year to assembly",

Mwangi said.

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Source: AllAfrica

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