Category Archives: bank service

Pesalink & The Wajanjas

The Wajanjas is the name given to the pre-launch activities of Pesalink which was unveiled three weeks ago. Pesalink is an initiative of the Kenya Bankers Association that may be the next revolutionary thing in Kenyan banking. Already 20 commercial banks have activated it.

While it may appear to be a reaction to mobile money, and m-pesa, Pesalink is actually a reaction to the banks’ own customer habits and the prevalence of the mobile phone – and recent bank internal numbers show customers moving from branches to phones. According to Barclays Bank, its customers did 43% of their transactions at their branches in 2016 down from 59%. At KCB, 75% of customers use mobile phone banking services and 91% of loans transactions are processed on phone, while at Coop, just 25% of transactions were done at branches at branches in 2015.

One of the main bank activities now is customers performing real-time cash transfers and payments. This is done by customers going to ATM’s or getting cash which they then upload to mobile money to be sent to a recipient, who then withdraws cash at an agent, and probably re-deposits it into a bank. But all that changes with Pesalink which short-circuits the long chain as transfers can be initiated at by phone (USSD / bank app), at a bank branch/agent, or bank ATM or over the (bank) Internet – and sent to any recipient registered at any of the 20 banks. This will also lower the costs of transacting. For the consumer, it currently costs a lot of money to send money, and Equity Bank CEO, James Mwangi,  said Kenyans spent 59 billion to transfer money last year, but that figure should come down with Pesalink.

In addition, the mobile money limits of Kshs 70,000 per transaction and Kshs 140,000 (~$1,400) per day don’t apply here. Pesalink limits are similar to that of bank cheques – which can go up to Kshs 1 million shillings (~$10,000). This is very useful when there are events like fundraisers, weddings, and (unfortunately) funerals. These are often expensive affairs where as soon as funds are raised they have to be disbursed quickly to service providers.

Another useful feature, that’s finally here, and which mobile money has failed to incorporate, is adding in the reason for a transaction. You can tag each payment with a useful message as to what it is for “bride car hire” or “apartment F6 water repair” and this helps account holders to track their mobile money transfers over time.

Try out Pesalink at your bank, by designating your phone number, and your primary bank account number. NIC Bank has some nice menus (PDF) that explain how simple it is to use Pesalink.

CBA Launches Loop Banking

#unbankyourself

The 54-year-old bank continued the journey it started in 2006 with mobile payments (when they helped design, test and support m-pesa) and extended in 2012 with the launch of m-shwari, with another new chapter today.

The launch of Loop extends the transformation of CBA to a digital bank. removed paper. Loop creates a virtual cycle, a digital financial service that combines payments, savings, insurance, credit – into one solution. The account can be opened on a phone app or website, with no paper forms to be filled. Features of the accounts are the Loop app, Loop store, and Loop card – and combined, these enable access to Loop products.

Account owners get access access loans and overdrafts, as well as savings, budget and networking tools to help them grow their net worth and meet their financial goals. The Loop app also helps them control and analyze their spending in support of their financial goals.

The primary target is 20 – 34-year-old entrepreneurs, followed by 35+-year-old established bank customers. One can open a Loop account right on the app or website, and there are six Loop centers (Sarit, in Nairobi CBD, Yaya, Buru Buru, Rongai, and Garden City)

In reading the terms and conditions (T&C’s):

  • Loop is an electronic-only account, and customers won’t get served at CBA branches. This is similar to M-shwari.
  • Agreeing to the T&C’s also grant the bank the right to access a user’s mobile money information from telco’s.
  • To get finance, loan insurance from CBA (from death & disability) is mandatory.
  • A debit card (not a credit card) is provided, which can be loaded, can be used to deposit and withdraw cash at an ATM.
  • Account holders can also sign up for CBA investment products that range from between 3 to 12 months.
  • Any disputes that can’t be settled with bank staff, can only go to mutual arbitration (not a court).

The launch had a nice panel discussion that highlighted the disconnect between bankers and entrepreneurs. 

Fintech Moment in East Africa: AmEx FT Pesalink Bitcoin

Recent events in the fintech (financial technology) payment space in East Africa.

Banks

  • The Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) unveiled Pesalink, a digital payments platform that is expected to cut the cost of transactions and transform the way consumers interact with their banks. Pesalink is a fully owned subsidiary of KBA and it will enable customers to make payments between banks in real-time, around the clock, without having to go through intermediaries. It has been approved at Standard Chartered, Co-Operative, Barclays, Commercial Bank of Africa, I&M, Diamond Trust, Gulf African, Guardian, Victoria, Credit, Prime and Middle East banks…“RT @alykhansatchu: .@HabilOlaka says @KenyaBankers will be targeting payments that exceed M-Pesa’s maximum transaction of ($675)”
  • Cooperative Bank: Is a demonstration that the how banks ar moving in the technology space. Kenya’s 3rd bank has adapted to their customers embrace and they enable more customers to use alternative channels for transactions.  They had a valentines’ week promotion to highlight and encourage customers to use alternative channels such as MCo-op Cash (get a loan straight from ones’ phone  at 1.16%  per month and send money to other MCo-op users for free) or at a Co-op Kwa Jirani agent (deposit cash into someone’s Co-op Account for FREE at a Co-op Kwa Jirani agent) or Co-Op cards.
  • KCB will unveil it’s fintech future – a strategy based on a digital finance  in Q2 of 2017
  • Another is EcoBank which launched a new mobile app which integrates Masterpass QR, a mobile payment solution from MasterCard.  It enables customers to send and receive money instantly across 32 other African countries.

Government

  • National Bank has launched cashlite payment solutions suite for county governments, Ministries, Government Agencies, and Departments. The bank has provided a variety of options for payments including mobile money, smart cards, and e-wallet and cash options, aligned with the continuing growth of mobile technology as well as consumers’ expectations for convenient mobile and online payments.
  • Strathmore University has supplied Busia county government with a revenue collection systems called CountyPro® with which the government hopes to grow revenue by 300%. It caters for all the unstructured county revenue sources including parking, market cess and trailer parking.
  • Mastercard is the technology partner for the Huduma Card in Kenya enabling payments for government services.  It is being issued by Commercial Bank of Africa, Diamond Trust, Equity, and Kenya Commercial banks. Kenyans will be able to pay for an array of enrolled Government services such as the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), National Social Security Fund (NSSF) amongst others. 

Cards

  • mVisa will soon be in 10 countries as Visa expands its QR payment service for safe and easy mobile payments in emerging markets. It is already live in India, Kenya (started with Family Bank) and Rwanda, and will soon be available to merchants and consumers in Egypt, Ghana, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Vietnam.. (mVisa) allows consumers to use their mobile phones to make cashless purchases at merchant outlets, pay bills remotely and even send money to friends and family members by securely linking their Visa debit, credit or prepaid account to the mVisa application. Also any bank’s mVisa customer – regardless of where they bank – can transact on any mVisa merchant and merchants do not need to invest in POS infrastructure. Visa has partnered with Co-Operative, Family, KCB, and NIC banks.
  • Mastercard commitED to financially include 100,000 Kenyan micro merchants with Masterpass QR, a simple and secure digital payment solution. It will be introduced through various financial institutions. With it, consumers will be able to pay for in-store purchases by scanning the QR (Quick Response) code displayed at the checkout on their smartphones, or by entering a merchant identifier into their feature phones. Masterpass QR is currently being rolled out in Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania.
  • Safaricom has issued 16,000 Lipa na M-Pesa cards in the pilot phase of a project that will launch later in the year. The Lipa na M-Pesa card uses pin and chip technology…It is also equipped with Near Field Communication (NFC) (which will) increases the speed at which customers make payments.
  • Verve: A dozen Kenya banks have partnered with Verve International, Africa’s leading low-cost payment network provider, in their push towards interconnectivity, cardless transact ability, and digital payments. Verve, best known as a card issuer has more than 32 million Verve cards and virtual/digital tokens issued across Africa and Verve is used in 19 African countries.
  • Pesapal adds American Express ​Pesapal integrated American Express into its payment platform on February 27, and  AmEx card holders can now use their cards to​ ​transact on any online payment portal that uses Pesapal. This is especially useful for hotels and other companies in the East African tourism space.  Pesapal which is in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Malawi and plans to expand to Nigeria in 2018 also offers an online booking engine for Hotels called ReservePort that’s used by Serena and Heritage brands.

Remittances

  • Facebook:  Facebook added international money transfers to its chat app. The service comes via London-based startup TransferWise in the form of a Facebook Messenger chatbot and enables transfers to and from the US, Britain, Canada, Australia, and Europe.
  • Bitpesa:  The company introduced an Africa to China corridor enabling users to send payments from Africa, directly to a Chinese bank account using bitcoin.
  • European choice: How much does it cost to send money from Germany to Kenya?@WehliyeMohamed posted that the global average cost for sending $200 in Q3 2016 was 7.42%, and that It cost him 6.7% to send money to Kenya. Then @MkenyaU answered that it costs 1.5% when he sends €200 from Germany and this reduces to 0.6% when he sends €500. He cautioned that some companies charge zero fees but their exchange rates are horrible as he shared a comparison of a dozen services available to send money from Germany to Kenya.

 

Mobile

  • Safaricom Mpesa: 10-year-old M-Pesa had 6 billion transactions in 2016 and is now in 10 countries – Albania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ghana, India, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, Romania, and Tanzania. A new feature in M-Pesa will enable users to see the cost of transactions. In the initial phase, customers will be notified of the costs after, and in the second phase customers will receive a pop up message informing them of any charges prior to the transactions, while the third phase will see the service being made available to value-added M-PESA financial products including M-Shwari, KCB M-PESA, Okoa Stima and M-Tiba. The second and third phases of the update will be rolled out in coming months.
  • There have been some calls and reports recommending that M-Pesa be split from Safaricom. This could have happened years ago, but it is more difficult now that M-Pesa is an entrenched and central part of Safaricom today.
  • Tala raised over $30 million in Series B financing, led by IVP and joined by Ribbit Capital.   Tala uses smartphone data to build financial identity ..  mobile app for Android aggregates more than 10,000 different data points on a customer’s device, including financial transactions, savings, network diversity, and geographic patterns, and builds a customized credit score, or financial identity. Tala operates in East Africa and Southeast Asia with its main top markets being Kenya and the Philippines. Tala has delivered more than one million loans totaling over $50 million, and more than one million individuals have accessed the product in East Africa alone. See how Tala compares to other (fintech) / phone-lending apps in Kenya.  Forbes termed this the largest Series B raised by a woman founder in recent memory.
  •  Zeep is a smart and simple mobile platform that helps young people (teens) nurture good  financial habits. They ‘learn by doing’ within the framework of a secure financial environment with guidance from their parents.

Companies to watch

Irish Tech News released a list of 38 Kenya fintech companies to watch in 2017; these include Abacus, BitPesa, Branch, Cellulant, Chura, FarmDrive, Kopo Kopo, M-Changa, Pesapal, Tala and Umati.

Summit

The FT Africa Payments Innovation Summit will take place on 29 March 2017..it will bring together 250 business leaders from various mobile and financial interest groups and explore challenges and opportunities inherent in these developments: from providing greater financial access to un-banked people across the continent to providing new services and opportunities for an emerging middle class.

 

 

Barclays Kenya 2016 Financial Results

Today, Barclays became the first Kenyan bank to release its financial results for the year 2016, which was a tumultuous year for the Kenya banking sector.

New bank chairman Charles Muchene said the year saw challenges with new business models, interest rate caps and the announcement of the parent sale. He also praised his predecessor, F. Okello.

Thereafter CEO Jeremy Awori said that while Kenya’s economy looked stable with an enviable economic growth rate, a stable currency and moderate inflation, the dip in shares at the Nairobi Securities Exchange and profit warnings issued by various companies showed some the struggles that companies, including their customers, were going through. He added that challenges at some banks had resulted in increased regulatory scrutiny and audits on systems, anti-money-laundering, and insider lending all other banks, and Barclays had passed. Also, that  2018 will bring new rules on impairment (bad loans) and capital requirements.

They had the investment in technology by going paperless and customer focused channels including intelligent ATM’s that allow 24-hour cash deposits, as well as enhancing internet and mobile banking. They have also invested in alternative channels and were the first international bank to embrace agent banking in a deal they signed with Posta Kenya under which they would have post offices in far-off places (like Wajir) act as customer interaction points for the bank.

Bank branches handled 43% of transactions in 2016, which was down from 59% as other channels recorded increases with ATM;’s handling 34%, digital 14%, and POS 9%

Summing up the financial results for the year, Barclays assets grew by 8% to Kshs 260 billion, deposits went up 8% to Kshs 178 billion while loans went up 16% to Kshs 169 billion. Interestingly 68% of bank deposits don’t earn interest (they are in transactional accounts). Also, the loans increases were mostly in the first half of the year while those after the interest rate cap law (passed in September 2016)  were mostly existing customers topping up their loans.

Income went up 8% to Kshs 31.7 billion as expenses also went up 8% to Kshs 16.9 billion. But there was a huge jump in provision got bad loans, which more than doubled, to Kshs 3.9 billion and this resulted in pre-tax profit dipping from Kshs 12 billion to Kshs 10.8 billion. 90% of the impairments were from retail/ personal lending.

The dividend for the year will be Kshs 1 per share – comprising an interim dividend of 0.2 per share and a final dividend od 0.8 per share – unchanged from 2015. The payout will be a total of Kshs 5.43 billion (~$54 million)

Going forward, digital and automation will be key drivers to give customers better and efficient experiences. Barclays also plans launch new mobile banking products soon, and to become a financial technology partner to their customers, not just a bank.

Kenyan Remittance from Europe .. as Facebook launches Money Transfers

TransferWise had just launched international money transfers via Facebook messenger chat.

Methods Kenyans use to remit money from Europe

  • TransferWise’s chatbot enables customers to send money to friends and family to and from the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and Europe from Facebook Messenger.
  • Facebook already allows its users to send money domestically in the United States via its Messenger app, but has not yet launched similar services internationally. TransferWise said its service will be the first to enable international money transfers entirely within Messenger. 
  • One of Europe’s most well-known fintech companies, TransferWise was launched in 2011 by Estonian friends Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Käärmann out of frustration with the high fees they were being charged by banks for international money transfers.

We did a survey a few weeks ago to see how a handful of Kenyans in Europe send money to Kenya, and asked them to give reasons why they use a particular method.  W hat’s interesting is how rare banks are in the person to person transfer space. We want to expand this further and see how Kenyans in other (European and non-European) countries remit funds.  This was almost Kshs 368 billion (~$3.7 billion of receivables from the rest of the world) in 2015 according  to the Kenya Economic Survey 2016.