Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My Bank, My Kiosk, My Social Friend!

A while back, Bankele blogged about the raise in number of Banks to the neighborhoods in ‘Your Bank, Your Neighbour’ where he observed rightly Banks have brought their services closer to the people.

Equity Bank Agents
This closeness to the customer seems to be taken further by Equity Bank. The Bank recently introduced agent banking where you can do some banking services in your local Kiosk under an Equity registered agent. To do this the bank gets commercial outlets to act as its Branches. This is a very innovative aspect the bank has undertaken since it will save the bank huge amounts in terms of establishing branches and this might lead to a slow down on its regional expansion.

Mobile Money
Also, the bank has been catching up on the M-Pesa (Mobile Money Transfer) services by launching on M-Kesho. Kenya has earned a place for itself by being the new Silicon Valley in terms of Mobile innovations. This has seen the setting up of i-Hub (A social gathering place for techies which has links to the big Tech companies such as Google, Microsoft and Nokia).

Equity Bank has always been in the look out for new and innovations and ways of doing business and has not been left out of the equation so to speak by foreign technology companies. The Bank partnered with Safaricom (The regional Mobile Telephone big player which has links with Vodafone) to bring into the market mobile Money transfer between the clients of Safaricom and Equity Bank.
It must be noted that Safaricom successfully incorporated M-Pesa (mobile money transfer) under Michael Joseph (first CEO of Safaricom who built the company from inception and left in 2010). It was back then a project which was being tried for viability by Vodafone funded by DFiD.

Social Media
Banks have been known to act conservatively (apart from the hedge fund practices in the western world which caused the global financial crisis). The banks in Africa have remained conservative in their practices. However, this seems to be changing because they are in the front line in defining 21 century banking.

Kenyan Banks (@barclays, @kcbgroup) have joined the social media site twitter mostly as a PR Public Relations exercise or to boost their CSR Corporate Social Responsibility. However, as banks continue to define their role on twitter I hope developers will see this and possibly come up with an application to be used by banks. T-Banking aka tweet banking where one can check their bank deposits would be a welcomed surprise!

During Pivot25 conference Equity Bank CEO intimated that they would be joining the social media. They also intend to start a blog! So come September I expect to be ‘friends with your bank’ and regularly comment on their blog.
Future of Equity Bank

Perhaps the bank is following its customers to the social media. Considering the mean age of its customers and going with the release of statistics by Opera which indicated Kenyan’s use of one the social media platform stands at 67%.
So come the next Annual General meeting they will account in their financial statements spending on a new ‘Social Media Account!’

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