Equity mulls expansion of Equitel in its East Africa units

Equity Bank chief executive James Mwangi. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU
Equity Bank chief executive James Mwangi. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU  

Equity Bank Group is set to introduce its mobile banking platform Equitel in five new markets within the East Africa region where it has a presence.

Group chief executive James Mwangi disclosed the plans Tuesday while speaking to Paris-based special report publisher Marcopolis.

He did not, however, give timelines for the intended expansion.

The lender plans to partner with mobile network operators in Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo to make the service available in these countries.

The Business Daily could not confirm whether the lender has received regulatory approvals to enter these markets. 

Launched in Kenya in July 2015, Equitel has two million active subscribers.

“Mobile devices have become our delivery terminal of choice. Essentially what we have done is to replicate the success of Kenya in the five other countries that we operate in,” said Mr Mwangi.

The launch of its mobile banking service in these countries is likely to give Equity first-to-market advantage over mass-market focused rivals such as KCB Group that also has presence in the region.

As at end of the first quarter of 2016, Equitel users transacted Sh62.5 billion while the value of mobile loans stood at Sh14.1 billion over the period.

“We have formed partnerships with mobile network operators so that we can leverage on their infrastructure without having to incur the cost of infrastructure. That leaves the bank with a lean and low cost infrastructure, while at the same time enhancing the sticking ability on the MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) and significantly reducing their problems in terms of users,” said Mr Mwangi.

Equitel users through the “Eazzy Loan” product can borrow up to Sh3 million repayable over a 12-month period.