Category Archives: bank service

Deloitte on African Art and Finance

The value of African art can grow tremendously over the next decade with investment and support from buyers both within Africa, and others who live beyond the continent, as well as from African art schools, governments, museums, galleries, art professionals and banks to stimulate and support more interest in African art.

These are some of the findings from the Art & Finance Report 2017 that was unveiled at Deloitte’s 10th Art and Finance conference at the Italian Stock Exchange in Milan this week and which estimated that the value of art owned by Africans collectors was $12.7 billion in 2016 and that it  could grow to $20 billion by 2026. This still accounts for less than 1% of the global art market currently estimated at $1.6 trillion with an annual turnover of $50 billion.

Some key findings of the report which looked at the global art markets include:

  • The art market should be self-regulated and there is great support for art to be part of wealth management offerings to customers at more private banks.
  • Banks need more specialists to properly value and manage art markets.
  • Art can be used as collateral, enabling art collectors and galleries to realize liquidity without having to make unfavorable sales to meet short-term cash-flow needs. See this on how to borrow against art.
  • Art as an investment class poses risks that are no different from others that banks manage and have to guard against, including vices like price manipulation, insider trading, money laundering and terror financing.
  • The top categories in the global art market are  “post-war & contemporary art”, followed by “modern & impressionist art”, “Chinese & Asian art” and ” jewels & watches”.

Some excerpts from the report on the African art market include:

  • International dealers and auction houses like Bonhams and Sotheby’s are seeing a gradual shift in the African contemporary art buyer base from mainly African art collectors to a more international and diverse group of art collectors.
  • London experienced a 12.5%  rise in African art auction sales between 2015 and 2016, with Bonhams controlling a 65% market share.
  • Sotheby’s London joined the African art auction trend in 2017 with its first auction focused purely on African contemporary art. It achieved total sales of over $3.6 million and 79 of the 116 lots were sold.
  • In 2017, record-breaking hammer prices recorded at auction for contemporary art were achieved by Nigerian artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby, whose work sold for less than $100,000 at auction in 2016. However, less than a year later, the artist’s piece “Drown” sold for a record-breaking US$1.1 million at a Sotheby’s auction and a few months after that, her 2012 painting “The Beautiful Ones” sold for US$3.1 million at a Christie’s London auction.

There is currently an inter-section of art, wealth, and technology with the possibility that bitcoin / block-chain can be used to assist banks and financiers with tools to help with transparency authentication, copyrights and ownership of art objects and there are already platforms such as Blockai, Ascribe.io, Chainmark, and smArtchain etc. in use.

The greatest demand for African art is currently from high net worth individuals in Nigeria and South Africa, which are the two largest economies in Africa. The report also notes that there is increasing demand from corporations such as the Nigeria Stock Exchange

Elsewhere In Kenya, Stanbic was working on investor management portfolio offerings that include wine and African art, while Nigeria has Access Bank in Nigeria. There are also other innovations coming up in African art and finance from leading banks and galleries in Kenya, South Africa and Europe.

Agency Banking in Kenya in 2017

Agency banking which has been around for seven years, is going to see a transformation of branch banking as banks roll out more products to alternative delivery channels.

Agency banking outlets extend banking services in Kenya.

According to Central Bank of Kenya statistics on the distribution of agents, 87% are with 3 banks – Equity Bank with 25,428 agents, Kenya Commercial Bank  with 12,883 and Cooperative Bank with 8,856 agents. Bank customers in Kenya transacted Kshs 734 billion in 2016, up from 442 billion in 2015).
Agents are big and deliver dozens of services that including SACCO transactions, payment of school fees, NHIF, KRA and utility bills – which bank customers can now do from their neighborhoods and which are accessible for longer hours than bank branches. While cash deposits and cash withdrawal are the bulk of the transactions, agents also processed Kshs 14 billion for payments of retirement and social benefits, and another Kshs 6 billion to utilities
Crucially, agents are the link between cash and the mobile banking/online banking worlds.

Last year Co-op reported that their branches did 15% of bank transactions with the rest being done on alternative channels, and yesterday Equity Bank disclosed that, this year, non-branch transactions are  91% of all monetary transactions – which are now happening on self-service and third-party platforms at variable costs – compared to the fixed costs of branches.

Equity is rolling out agency banking in Uganda, and the Central Bank of Kenya has had knowledge exchange partnerships with teams from Tanzania and Malayisa who were studying agency banking in Kenya. Equity CEO James Mwangi also said that Equity Bank agents share between Kshs 3-5 million in commissions every day as he pondered that the bank did not need new staff and could give probably back 70% of the physical space they currently have.  Their next step will be to digitize corporate banking to enable services to be done on alternative channels, the way retail banking has been done.

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.

Standard Chartered Kenya launches Video Banking

Standard Chartered launched video banking in Nairobi today. Already used in Asia, Kenya will become the first of their banks in Africa to roll out the service to its customers.

Standard Charted is currently Kenya’s 5th largest bank by assets, and has been in the country since 1911 and serves retail, corporate and institutional clients. CEO Lamin Manjang spoke of their “digital by design” investments, in which they use technology to enhance customer experiences while improving on the banks’ cost efficiency. He said “ Almost all transaction done at the branches are available through other means” and listed recent innovations they have done including – upgraded their platform, a new mobile banking app, fingerprint login, ATM’s that accept cash deposit ATM, and now video banking.

Whether in Singapore or Malindi, customers will be able to have secure video chats with agents located at the banks’ headquarters in Chiromo, Nairobi, share screens, exchange documents, do their banking and get advice, especially on investment and wealth management products and services. It is available to all customers, Monday to Friday from 9 a. to 6 p.m. Video banking is currently only on desktop computers, but they plan to extend it to mobile devices in the future.

The chief guest was the country’s  Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communications and Technology, Joe Mucheru, who spoke on the government’s new cyber security bill as he urged banks and companies to invest in backups of critical data, upgrade their operating systems and anti-virus software and use of cloud services. “If you’ve gone through the agony of ransomware, investing in backups is not a big issue.”

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.