Equity Bank Group yesterday launched its much awaited Equitel, a new mobile payment and banking platform for its customers –that officially brings to the fore the convergence between mobile and banking services in Kenya.
The bank has hailed its newest innovation as the answer to promoting greater access to banking services which currently stand at 53percent of the Kenyan population.
“The unveiling of this new platform is part of our 30 year journey of promoting financial inclusion. Our aim is to raise the number of Kenyans with access to banking services to 90percent and above in the first phase,” said Dr. James Mwangi, Equity Bank Group CEO.
Equitel now becomes the first platform in Kenya to combine the best of mobile and banking services to give Kenyans more Freedom, Choice and Control when managing money and staying in touch with their loved ones.
At the same time, the bank unveiled 0764 prefix after hitting one million customers on the 0763 prefix during the pilot phase.
“Equitel is providing the bank with another opportunity to continue our mission of offering inclusive, innovative, customer-focused financial services that transform livelihoods, give dignity and expand opportunities,” said Dr. Mwangi adding on that the company has put up an elaborate plan to further boost financial inclusion that transcends limitation of banking time and location.
The new platform eliminates the need for mobile applications in accessing internet banking as even a simple feature phone will work in a similar manner like a sophisticated smart phone further demystifying financial services.
“Internet banking has been a preserve of a few but now with Equitel this will be a mass market offering. It will enable all customers to access their bank accounts for 24 hours 7 days a week,” said Dr. Mwangi. The Equitel platform will make banking services more accessible, flexible, convenient and more affordable.
It is also a unique and universal platform that is interoperable with other systems as users will not only be able to securely send and receive money on the Equitel network but also from other banks and mobile money platforms such as Airtel Money, Yu Cash, Orange Money and MPESA.
“We are offering a universal platform whose technology spans from the Equity ecosystem to include other financial institutions and mobile systems,” Dr. Mwangi said.
Equitel, money transfer from one mobile phone or bank account to another within the Equity ecosystem will be done free of charge.
Therefore, Equitel is not only scheduled to bring full mobility to banking by simplifying the payments and transactions process but also key in further reducing the cost of mobile and banking services –enabling greater inclusion for all Kenyans and beyond.
“We will be leveraging on the bank’s presence across the region to roll out Equitel and this is the basis of optimism of attaining a subscriber base of over five million SIM cards by end of 2015,” Dr. Mwangi added.
Customers can visit any Equity Bank branch countrywide to obtain their SIM cards from a choice of standard size SIM, micro and nano and thin SIM based on their requirements.
“Customers can call 100 on their Equitel line for support from a fully resourced contact centre with customer care representatives who have been fully trained to manage all customer enquiries 24/7,” he added.
Equitel is the first platform in Kenya and in Africa to offer a full banking suite without building new mobile infrastructure. Commonly known as a Mobile Virtual Number Operator (MVNO), the service combines mobile and banking in a fresh, ground breaking way.
Airtel Africa CEO Christian De Faria lauded Equity Bank on their innovation and said the company was proud to serve as partner operator for the Equitel platform.
“Equitel services are already running on our network and we are delighted to work with Equity Bank to pioneer this innovation in Kenya,” said Airtel Africa CEO Christian De Faria.
According to Dr. Mwangi, Equitel becomes a value addition for Airtel as the latter will provide telecom services including voice, SMSs and data services for the platform.
Additionally, Equitel will further financial inclusion by offering members a range of banking products such as loans, cross boarder transfers, insurance and investments services. Equitel customers can also receive diaspora remittances onto their accounts and access it directly through their mobile phone.
Equitel is available to all Equity Bank account holders and provides a perfect means to enjoy control and freedom of choice. For those who are not members they can easily open an Equity Account Hapo Hapo by dialling *247# on any mobile phone.