Kenya has for long been taunted as having one of the most progressive mobile money solutions in the World. The glory has been attributed to Safaricom’s M-Pesa, which allows users to make peer to peer money transfer while at the same time making payments through its Lipa na M-Pesa merchant service. Kenya has at the same time seen a rise in the number of firms seeking to offer digital payments locally from PesaPal to JamboPay and even Equity Bank’s Equitel. Even so, 95% of all payments within the country are still processed via cash and this makes the space highly lucrative for disruption.
KCB, which is Kenya’s biggest bank in terms of asset is being bold as far as this segment is concerned. According to Bloomberg News, KCB Bank is seeking partnerships with a host of global companies to accelerate digital payments. The company is currently seeking to partner with Facebook, Apple, Alibaba Group through a newly established unit called KCB Fintech in creation of a new digital payments platform. Other companies also involved in the talks include PayPal, Samsung Electronics, Twitter and Safaricom’s M-Pesa.
KCB has in the meantime been offering its customers a host of digital services such as money transfer, payments and airtime purchases via KCB Mobi. The bank also partnered with Safaricom to launch the KCB M-pesa account, a facility aimed at increasing financial inclusion through savings as well as issuing loans through Safaricom’s mobile money service M-pesa. The Bank has set an ambitious target of growing the number of customers on its digital platform to 20 Million by 2017 which is achievable given these developments. At the same time, the bank has been working to improve its infrastructure to handle more transactions owing to a surge in demand for loans following the new law on interest rates. The infrastructure will handle 600 transactions per second.
The KCB Fintech unit will begin operations in June 2017 and will be headed by Eddie Ndichu.