Category Archives: Equity Bank

Interest Cap Impact and Bank Resilience

The end of August marks the deadline for Kenyan banks to publish their unaudited half-year results (January to June 2017). Those of most banks are done and there are some trends, some concerns and some resilience areas seen in what’s been a challenging year for the sector that has for a long time been seen as one that earns super-profits for its shareholders.
The interest rate capping bill was signed last August, and while its initial impact was not fully seen in the 2016 results, one year later these can now be interpreted. The law has had far-reaching impacts on different banks, their performance, operations and strategic directions. Overall, there has been a decline in bank results due to a mix of interest rate caps and digitization, as phones have taken over from branches as the main point for the bulk of customer transactions.
Some observations: 
  • Less traditional banking: there has been a decline in assets as more banks have turned to digitization to cut costs, and increase efficiency. At Equity, deposits were flat between March and June, which also marked the third straight quarter of overall loan declines
  • Lower interest income: e.g. 45% down at Family Bank, plunging it to a half-year loss
  • A buildup of government debt: Equity now has Kshs 105 billion, KCB 100 billion, and Diamond Trust 83 billion.
  • More closure of branches e.g. Barclays, Standard Chartered, Bank of Africa and Ecobank. But it’s not all gloom as some banks like Cooperative and Diamond Trust have announced plans to open new branches.
  • Job cuts have been announced at KCB, Standard Chartered, Barclays, Family Bank, National Bank of Kenya, NIC Bank, Ecobank, Bank of Africa, First Community Bank and Sidian Bank.
  • With nowhere to go, banks are giving money back to shareholders. Some banks have reduced capital, while KCB with profit flat at the half-year will pay a rare interim dividend confirming analysts’ view that some banks will return more capital to shareholders at a time when they have curtailed lending to riskier customers. 
  • Big banks are okay, small ones, not so much:

  • Losses, not profits. E.g. Family and Sidian, went into the red at the half year, despite layoffs and closures, while Ecobank managed to stay above water. These have mainly been attributed to reduced interest income.
  • Declines in loans and deposits at tier ii banks, and T1 equity
  • Mortgage declines: Buy Rent Kenya said that there has been a major drop in the number of mortgage applications over the past year and that those that the cap was meant for are currently the biggest losers as banks are skeptical to give credit to most individuals as they now have numerous terms and conditions that are not easy to meet.
  • Local banks converting debt to equity at Kenya Airways: This has been a reluctant move, with three banks delaying the Ksh 23 billion conversion that will see a consortium of Kenyan banks become the second largest shareholder at the airline.
  • Equity announced they will no longer lend unsecured loans to salaried Kenyans, cutting off a product feature that has brought them great popularity.
  • New business lines:  Banks have looked to other sources of income this year. Co-operative Bank which has net interest income and pre-tax profit that was down 10% in the half-year, received regulatory approval from the Central Bank of Kenya to enter into a joint venture with Super Group, a leading South African leasing company and together they will target major infrastructure projects, government vehicle leasing, oil & gas exploration, and other leasing opportunities. Elsewhere, National Bank entered a partnership with World Remit to allow remittances to be paid directly into bank accounts at NBK, Barclays is funding solar mini-grids in Turkana while Standard Chartered bucked the trend on Equity and will step up unsecured lending. 
  • Non performing loans (NPA’s) are up: At NBK, they are up to 29 billion, half the 57 billion loan book. NBK is awaiting a Kshs 2.9 billion NSSF (shareholder) loan to shore up capital.
  • NPA’s have also gone along with increased provisions e.g. 1.8 billion at Stanbic at the half-year.

Bank Rankings Part 1: Kenya’s Top 10 Banks

2016 was an interesting, but also a challenging year, with a few key events happening that will alter the industry and future bank rankings going forward.

Who are the top banks at the end of 2016? We should start having their audited 2016 results published over the next eight weeks. But who will top the bank rankings for 2016, and why? (last year‘s bank ranking in brackets)

September 2016 numbers used

1 (1) KCB Kenya’s largest bank. growing at 5% year, going to embrace digital in a few weeks. KShs 480 billion in assets, 21.7 billion in pre-tax profit, with Kshs 372 billion of deposits and Kshs 332 billion of loans

2 (2) Equity Bank. Kshs 380 billion of assets and 19.5 billion profit. Deposits grew 15% in the year but they have put most of that in government securities.

3 (3) Cooperative Bank: Kshs 352 billion assets and 15 billion profit. Coop is using digital and agents to contain costs.

4 (5) Standard Chartered: Kshs 264 billion assets and 10.7 billion profit.

5 (4) Barclays: Still keen on growing in Kenya despite parent Barclays having to sell off the Africa unit. Growing at 10% a year, Kshs 264 billion assets and 8.7 billion profit.

6 (8) Diamond Trust: Still growing at 20%, probably benefiting from the fallout at Imperial. Kshs 230 billion assets and 6.2 billion profit.

7 (6) Stanbic: Shed the CFC part of the CFC-Stanbic name 10 years after the merger

8 (7) Commercial Bank of Africa. CBA was the the largest bank by customer numbers, thanks to M-pesa powered M-shwari, but loans are flattening. Kshs 211 billion assets, 5.4 billion profit.

EDIT  9 I&M Bank EDIT 

10 (9) NIC bank. Kshs 156 billion assets, and 4.5 billion profits.

EDIT 10 (13) Citibank: breaks into the top 10. Kshs 116 billion assets, and 4.1 billion profits.

Just out of the top 10, is I&M bank and troubled Chase and National banks. It is important to note that all the top banks, led by KCB, Equity and Coop all embrace a mix of agency and digital/mobile phone banking as a basis for future growth.
$1 = ~Kshs 101

Kenya Top 3 Banks

Yesterday Co-Op Bank announced their 2016, third quarter earnings, and with that we have the numbers in from the top 3 banks.

KCB: Assets: 480 billion, loans 332 billion, deposits 372 billion, pre-tax profit 21.7 billion

Equity: 380 billion, loans 221 billion, deposits 271 billion, pre-tax profit 19.5 billion

Co-Op: 351 billion, loans 226 billion, deposits 256 billion, pre-tax profit 14.9 billion

$1=Kshs 101

M-Shwari, Equitel, and Mobile Lending Apps in Kenya

Just 24 hours apart, Equity Bank and Safaricom, which arguably have the most financial connections with Kenyan citizens, through m-banking, both made financial results announcements. Equity released their Q3 2016 results while Safaricom, whose year ends in March, was announcing their 2017 half-year results.

Safaricom has M-Pesa and also powers M-shwari at CBA and KCB M-pesa while Equity has Equitel a bank in a SIM card that gets around the barrier of the M-pesa. At the beginning of the year Equity had 8.8 million customers and the country’s largest bank – KCB had 3.8 million . They are surprisingly topped by CBA with 12.9 million customers, largely due to their partnership with Safaricom called M-shwari which allows savings and lending directly from a phone SIM card.

In the results this week, Safaricom reported pre-tax half-year profit of Kshs 34 billion derived from their 26 million customers solar-2Bphone-2Bchargerand their CEO said that they process about 21,000 M-pesa transactions per minute and that 2 loans are processed every second. M-pesa revenue increased by 33.7% to Kshs 26 billion, and message revenue grew by 8.1% to Kshs 8.6 billion (with the increase in premium rate SMS revenue probably attributable to sports betting /mobile gaming)

They now have 50,000 merchants using their cashless platform called Lipa na M-Pesa, and announced a waiver on person-to-person and Lipa Na M-Pesa transactions under Kshs 100 (~$1)  “We have done this to empower the people who support this company the most – the mama mbogas, the small businessmen, and the micro-agents who form our network.”

As at September 2016, Equity had a Kshs 15.1 billion pre-tax profit, an 18% increase over last year.  The Q3 results also showed a second straight quarter of reduction in loans at the bank from Kshs 222 to 221 billion. Whether this is due to the recent interest rate-capping bill or an absence of lending opportunities, or an economic pullback is not clear, but the deposits raised by the bank went to government treasuries which grew by Kshs 21 billion in the quarter.

Equity reaffirmed an ongoing commitment to shift in customer service channels from physical branches to phone and agents. In the first year of Equitel (their telco), it did 151 million transactions in the quarter 142% more than the year before. Equitel is now the second largest move of mobile money in Kenya – at 14%, being M-Pesa (84%)  but ahead of Airtel Money, Orange Money and Mobikash.

Equity Bank has also released a series of Eazzy banking solutions and tools including (an)  Eazzy App, Eazzy Chama (investment group/SACCO management tool) and (an) EazzyAPI (for developers to build on).

Away from the two, the World Bank’s CGAP blog recently highlighted and compared several phone-based borrowing / m-banking solutions and apps available to Kenyans. They are easily accessible but unregulated, and they vary their terms, credit scoring methods, limits (which range from ~S1 to $10,000) interest rates, duration,  and the ultimate cost to the borrower. They include;  Branch, Equitel (Eazzy Loan and  Eazzy Plus Loan), Jumo/ Kopa Cash, KCB-M-Pesa, Kopa Chapaa, Micromobile, Mjiajiri, M-pawa-Sacco, M-Shwari, Okoa Stima, Pesa na Pesa, Pesa Pata, Pesa Zetu, Saida, Tala, and Zindisha.

$1 = Kshs 101

Banks adjust mobile phone loans

Mobile banking has really come of age in the last few years. As Carol Musyoka wrote CBA has moved from about 64,000 accounts before M-Shwari to 12.9 million accounts as at December 2015 primarily due to this virtual platform (i.e. M-shwari) without any exponential growth in its branch expansion.

The ability to save and borrow money just by using a few clicks on your phone has been revolutionary. Over at Equity Bank, CEO James Mwangi talks about the application for loans that start at 1 am, with approval being done in a few hours and the loans being disbursed to borrowers phones at 5 a.m. – long before the bank branch doors open at 8 a.m.

The interest rate-capping bill (Njomo) which covers loans has been deemed to cover all bank loans, but this has seen different interpretations at the leading banks that offer dedicated phones banking services:

Apply and get a loan directly on our phone

Apply and get a loan directly on our phone

  • CBA: Have insisted that the 7.5% fee that they charge is not interest, but a facility fee. This has been the case since M-shwari launched back in 2012. The are said to have issued Kshs 40 billion by the end of 2015, and across the border, CBA has got 60,000 mobile bank customers in Uganda in just two months in partnership with MTN (MoKash)
  • Coop Bank: Disburse mobile salary advance loans at 1.16% and business loans at 1.2%. They don’t charge any facilitation fees and loan are payable in 1 to 3 months. (Simply sial *667# to apply for a  #CoopMobileLoan). Coop are reported to be processing about 1,300 loan applications a day up from 250 per day before the rate cap. (70% of its new loan applications this month were requests for refinancing of existing loans). In 2015, the service had 2.7 million users, and 183,000 loans were disbursed.
  • Equity: Adjusted all their loans, including credit cards and mobile  bank loans to 14.5% (Previously “Eazzy Loan” and “Eazzy Loan Plus” products had an interest rate of between 2% and 10% per month) . The loans are said tp have a 1% facilitation fee
  • KCB resumed lending their m-pesa loans after a three-week technical hitch. They have adjust loan rates to 1.16% with a one-off negotiation fee of 2.55% resulting in a total of 3.66%  (including government excise duty tax) on loans. The loan duration has also been reduced to just one month – with no more 3 or 6 month loans.

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