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Banks take to social media for a chat with customers

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Mr Richard Etemesi, the managing director of Standard Chartered Bank, works on a laptop. Through their lobby, KBA, bank CEOs are reaching out to clients in chat rooms beginning  next week. File

Mr Richard Etemesi, the managing director of Standard Chartered Bank, works on a laptop. Through their lobby, KBA, bank CEOs are reaching out to clients in chat rooms beginning next week. File 

By DAVID MUGWE

Posted  Wednesday, October 31  2012 at  18:12

In Summary

  • Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) ran a one-month discussion through an Internet chat room weekly between July and August this year
  • KBA chief executive officer says the public should expect more of such forums as the association engages more with banking stakeholders.
  • A lobby representing 43 commercial lenders, KBA is seeking to show consumers that banks are willing to talk to consumers.

Over the past two years, Kenyan companies, particularly those serving the mass market, have taken to social media to engage with consumers.

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Technology and financial services firms such as KCB Group, Safaricom, Unaitas and Housing Finance, utilities such as Kenya Power and supermarket chains have set up Twitter accounts while many others are engaging customers on Facebook.

Kenya Bankers Association (KBA), which between July and August this year ran a one-month discussion through an Internet chat room weekly, has said that it will now host the chat session quarterly beginning this month. People can chat with a commercial bank CEO through the KBA website on selected topics through the forum dubbed “my15 min chat with a CEO”.

Habil Olaka, KBA chief executive officer, said the public should expect more of such forums as the association engages more with banking stakeholders. “We received very positive feedback from the initial chief executive officer chat from not only Kenya but also Rwanda, the United States, Australia, and even South Korea,” said Mr Olaka.

During the first discussions, the public debated with CEOs and managing directors such as Richard Etemesi from StanChart, Martin Oduor-Otieno of KCB, HF’s Frank Ireri. Others were Isaac Awuondo of CBA, Sam Kimani of Jamii Bora and DTB’s Nasim Devji.

A lobby representing 43 commercial lenders, KBA is seeking to show consumers that banks are willing to talk to consumers.

As of 10 pm on Wednesday night, KCB had 8,079 followers on Twitter, Safaricom had 77,117, Unaitas had 315, Kenya Power had 20,833, Nakumatt had 2,363 while Uchumi had 351 followers. “It is certainly a departure from the norm. We are keen to demystify banking and engage with the public on matters of interest,” said Mr Olaka.

KBA said that the first event is scheduled for November 8; it will feature James Macharia who is the group managing director of NIC Bank.