Equitel becomes second biggest mover of mobile money in Kenya

Equitel becomes second biggest mover of mobile money in Kenya

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Equity chief executive James Mwangi (right) and Airtel Africa CEO Christian de Faria during the launch of the Equitel mobile money transfer and banking platform in Nairobi on July 20, 2015. PHOTO: COURTESY.

Nairobi, KENYA: Equity Bank’s mobile banking arm outperforms old players such as Airtel Money, Orange Money and Mobikash to command 14.4 per cent of the transactions in the second quarter.

The Equitel platform, has eclipsed three older rivals to register 14.4 per cent of the total value of transactions offering real competition for the dominant M-Pesa.

Data from the Communications Authority (CA) for the three months to June shows that a total of Sh138.5 billion was transacted through Equitel against a total of Sh. 957 billion that passed through all the six mobile money transfer service providers.

Equitel, which was launched in July 19 last year, has raced far ahead of Airtel Money (Sh10 billion), Orange Money (Sh191 million) and Mobikash (Sh373 million). It is still, however, far off Safaricom’s M-Pesa which moved a total of Sh807 billion in the quarter (84.3 per cent).

“The total number of transactions during the quarter was registered at 375.8 million with an equivalent of Sh957.0 billion transacted amongst the users,” a CA report says.

Equitel, operated by Finserve Africa — Equity Bank’s mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) — combines both banking and telecoms services including voice, data and SMS on a single SIM card.

“Customers’ banking trends have declared the death of the bank branch as transaction channel, as they increasingly embrace self-service technology platforms that give them freedom, choice and control.” Dr. James Mwangi revealed this while launching a suite of digital products dubbed Eazzy Banking.

Equitel had two million subscribers by the end of June compared to the older players Telkom (5.2 million), Airtel (6.5 million) and Safaricom (25.9 million).

By the end of June Kenya had 39.7 million mobile subscribers, up from 38.3 million subscriptions registered in April with MVNOs and introduction of new services contributing to the growth.

“The number of mobile subscriptions continues to increase remarkably and this can be attributed to increased market entry by MVNO’s and expansion of mobile network infrastructure by the service providers,” the CA says in the report.

“The continued growth in mobile subscriptions has been driven by proliferation of mobile data services such as, m-commerce and m-banking services as well as hand set affordability.”

Despite Safaricom holding 65 per cent of the mobile subscriptions it commands more than three-quarters of the voice market at 77.8 per cent. The telco posted 7.9 billion minutes of talk time in the three months to June.

Airtel’s share of the voice traffic was 13.9 per cent (1.42 billion minutes), Telkom 7.8 per cent (803.6 million minutes) and Equitel had 47.4 million minutes.

The report says that the minutes of use (MoU) per month per subscriber declined to 86.0 minutes during the three months under review down from 89.0 minutes registered in the previous quarter.