One of Kenya’s largest banks, Equity Bank, recently indicated that it is positioning its network of 190 branches into centers of providing advisory and consultation services for SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) and large customers.
This is motivated by an ongoing shift of retail clients moving to digital channels, which intensified during the pandemic.
One month ago, Kenya’s Central Bank governor revealed that 96% of transactions happen outside the bank branches. The figure rose from 91% before the pandemic.
Furthermore, the governor of Kenya’s apex bank said the number of bank transactions on mobile phones has increased from 56% to 85% of all transactions.
According to the governor, the move to digital channels has been part of continued transformation in Kenya’s financial sector which can be traced back to the launch of mobile money service MPESA by leading telco, Safaricom.
Indeed, Kenya’s financial inclusion has risen from 26.7% just 10 years ago to 83% currently.
Kenyans are also at the forefront when it comes to usage of cryptocurrencies.
A recent report by Chainalysis determined that Kenya is number one globally when it comes to to peer-to-peer (P2P) cryptocurrency transaction volumes.
P2P trading is the act of buying and selling cryptocurrencies directly between users, and is popular across the continent.
One of the most common use cases for crypto in Kenya was to carry out international transactions, to enable cross border trade.
Kenyans also use crypto to preserve savings as well for individual remittances.
The changing landscape in Kenya’s financial sector is reflected in Equity Bank’s third quarter financial results, released last week.
Equity announced that legacy banking – physical branch networks and ATMs, now account for only 3% of the bank’s transactions. It also said that the vast majority of transactions (945 million) were carried out on mobile devices or on 3rd party infrastructure.
In October 2021, Equity’s push for SME’s was recognized as the bank clinched Africa’s best bank for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) title during the 2021 EuroMoney Awards.
The award recognized that Equity’s SME lending has focused on unsecured working capital financing with a specific focus on supply chain financing in agriculture, manufacturing, fast-moving consumer foods, and healthcare.
The award also praised Equity for accessing credit-risk guarantees and other types of funding from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and other development finance institutions in Europe – tailored for SMEs, including female entrepreneurs and agricultural value chains.