UBA Kenya Bank, a subsidiary of Nigeria-based United Bank of Africa, has launched a mobile banking product targeting to promote savings by-low income earners.
Akiba Mkononi, a partnership with mobile phone services provider Airtel Kenya, allows subscribers to open and manage accounts from a mobile phone and earn interest.
“If a person subscribes to Akiba Mkononi, they start to make money because the interest rate is priced off the returns on Treasury Bills,” said UBA Kenya chief executive Tunji Adeniyi.
The interest rate will be two percentage points off the prevailing Treasury Bill rate.
The current Treasury Bill rate is nine per cent, meaning the savings will earn seven per cent computed quarterly.
The minimum an individual can hold in the account is Sh100 with daily deposits ranging between Sh50 to Sh140,000.
One can also service insurance premium payments through the account which can be accessed from 98 Post Bank branches in Kenya as well as UBA Bank counters.
Akiba Mkononi joins the growing list of mobile banking platforms initiated by commercial banks to boost customer base at minimal increase in operation costs
Unlike M-Shwari, however, it does not allow savers to borrow.
UBA Kenya board chairman Ngugi Kiuna said the account was aimed at increasing financial inclusion through technology.
“Financial inclusion does not only mean access to credit. We need to provide platforms that our customers can use to build savings and earn money from them instead of borrowing loans,” he said.
However, the bank hinted at creating a borrowing functionality once Akiba Mkononi is integrated to other products like the prepaid card.
UBA is also seeking to take the product to 18 African countries where the partners have a presence and is looking to partner with other mobile service providers.
Mr Adeniyi said the bank would consider listing on the Nairobi Securities Exchange in the medium term.