Agency banking came of age today with launches of agency banking by both KCB (‘KCB Mtaani’ – translation KCB in your neighbourhood) and Co-Op (‘Co-op Kwa Jirani’ -translation Co-Op in your neighbourhood) which are the largest and third largest banks by assets respectively. They follow in the steps of Equity Bank who have had agency banking for several months
Why Agency Banking? If 3 of the country’s 5 largest banks with the largest branch footprints chose to go agency banking. Agency banking expands the reach of the bank about 100-200 branches to anywhere from 1,000 to 20,000 outlets through the agent model Speaking at an investor briefing last year, Equity Bank CEO James Mwangi spoke of the extra reach would bring for them and which signaled an end to the rapid branch and staff expansion that the bank had been known for.
Equity initially looked like they would partner with Safaricom’s strong M-pesa agent network (22,000 agents) for their banking extension, but that partnership seems to have hit a brick wall) and now the field is open to dukas, bookshops, and grocery stores, kiosks, hardware & phone sales shops, and others established shops especially in remote villages where banks are unlikely to open branches.
The shops must fit the criteria set by Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) for bank agents (more here) – including that they cannot be mutually exclusive. (Not being tied to one bank can be an opportunity for established village business owners to act as agents for several banks)
What can agents do for bank customers?
Co-Op: Cash deposits, cash withdrawals, school fees payments, utility payments, balance enquiry, issuance of mini-statements.
KCB: Deposit taking and withdrawals. In future, balance enquiries, loan repayments and requests for chequebooks & account statements.
Equity Bank: Deposit taking, cash withdrawals, as well as origination of account opening & loan applications.