In 2015, Equity Bank through its subsidiary Finserve Africa limited launched its MVNO called Equitel. An MVNO is a mobile carrier that comes in, leases infrastructure and goes straight into business, where Equity leased Airtel Kenya’s excess infrastructure to launch the service. The move was seen by some as aimed at taking on the market leader Safaricom in the telecommunications space. Equity, however, emphasized that Equitel is a tool through which it seeks to bring a convergence between mobile money transfer services and banking for its customers.
A few weeks back, Equity Bank announced a whole range of products under the Eazzy suite signalling the bank’s bold commitment towards becoming a fully digital bank. The new strategy by the bank of embracing digital platforms has had monumental success where currently, 84% of all loans issued by the bank take place through the Equitel mobile platform.
The Eazzy Suite of services includes a banking app known as Eazzy App; an interoperable payment platform, EazzyPay; a mobile based loan product, EazzyLoan; a solution to help Chamas, investment clubs and groups manage their joint finances and investments, EazzyChama ;a retail internet portal where customers can manage their bank accounts, EazzyNet. EazzyNet has added capabilities allowing the bank’s customers with paypal accounts to withdraw their funds to their Equity Bank accounts within three business days. There also include other products such as Eazzy Biz for SMEs and Eazzy APIs platform that avails the bank’s APIs to developers.
The Bank has partnered with various global players as it chases its digital strategy including Oracle who are providing their cloud and engineering technology; Apigee in providing the API platform for developers; OpenWay in card management and Infosys for the core banking platform. Others such as Experian MicroAnalytics provide the credit scoring platform for the bank’s customers. Cisco, IBM and Paladion have also played a role.
Will the Bank Achieve this?
Certainly. Equity Bank emerged into prominence for lowering the barrier of entry for the unbanked populations. It made banking services available to all thus debunking the myth that the low tier customer was unbankable. It then moved towards deepening financial inclusion by offering these services to rural areas. At a time when Kenya continues to have one of the highest rates of mobile penetration, digital banking is certainly the way to go.
The Bank will most likely tap into its expertise of lowering the barrier of entry for customers and replicate the same with digital banking services. Secondly, the provision of a host of solutions targeted at customers of all sphere is a gamble likely to pay-off. This unification of services means a customer can from a single platform access and transact on all their financial needs creating convenience for them.