Equity Bank has been at the forefront of revolutionizing the banking industry from way back. This can be seen in the bank’s decision to serve the lower end of the market in the 90’s when banking was considered a preserve of the rich.
As a matter of fact, during this period, banks used to demand a minimum balance of Ksh. 10,000 which left many unbanked. The move by Equity had an effect of changing the banking landscape forever to a point other banks started to court this largely untapped market.
In its quest to ensure financial inclusion, the bank has invested heavily in technology over the years so as to make this a reality. This investment in technology to make banking easier kicked in earnest at around the year 2000. Whereby after Equity saw that the urban areas were well covered by the other banks, they came up with the idea of providing mobile banks (banking on wheels) to the remote areas of Kenya, which were unserved. The mobile banks consisted of four-wheel drive vehicles which served rural areas with population densities of over 400 per square kilometer. These mobile banks made weekly visits to the communities they were serving and provided all the services that one could find in an Equity branch.
The village mobile units proved to be quite popular since they saved their clientele from transportation costs. Such that by early 2004, the units were profitably serving 12,000 clients in 29 villages.
In the year 2004, Equity was the first bank to introduce USSD banking whereby its clients were able to access banking services by simply dialing *247#. This ensured that anyone with a mobile phone could be able to bank which went a long way in making banking accessible since a good number of people had phones. This option is still available for those who have feature phones which cannot access the internet.
By 2013, the bank had, and I believe still has one of the largest agency banking networks in the country. This model made it possible for customers of the bank to have access to the banking services within reach and at the very comfort of their neighborhood. Since then, this number has grown to over 62,854 bank agents across the markets that it serves.
In 2015, the bank launched a suite digital products named EazzyBanking, which promised to give an easy, comprehensive and secure banking experience. This move was due to a growing number of digitally savvy bank customers who wanted a service which assured them of convenience, choice and control.
This suite included;
This banking app enables customers to send money, pay for goods and services, get loans, pay bills and check your account balance. It is available on the Google Play Store and the iOS App store.
This feature allows customers to borrow upto Ksh. 3 million from their phone. They can be able to do so via Equitel or the EazzyApp.
This product is targeted at chamas and helps them manage their group activities like record keeping and banking transactions. The app is be available on Google Play Store and the iOS App store.
This is Equity Bank’s online banking proposition which allows one to transact over the internet securely. It is available at ke.equitybankgroup.com/eazzynet.
In 2018, the bank launched Riziki insurance cover whereby Equitel subscribers are covered for lost daily income from their employment or personal business in case they are admitted to hospital. The product is accessible to anyone with an Equitel line who uses airtime worth Sh100 and above or makes mobile banking transactions worth Sh1,000 or more per month.
As in everything else, Equity Bank has become very successful in utilizing technology to enable their customers access their services. So much so that, in 2020, the digital bank overtook the legacy bank in both the number of transactions and value of transactions handled daily. Online banking products and services experienced the greatest growth with digital transaction values growing by 34%.
Equity’s fintech innovation and digitization has enabled at least 98% transactions to take place outside the bank with at least 83% taking place in Mobile and Internet Banking platforms. In addition, 59% of Equity’s transaction value took place outside the branches with Mobile and Internet banking taking a 33% chunk of the total value.
This is in line with the Equity Bank’s African Recovery and Resilience plan which is aimed at catalyzing a natural resources-led transformation of Africa. Pillar four of the plan deals with technology enabled economy with an objective of bringing on board 100 million online customers by the year 2025.