Nairobi, KENYA: Barclays bank on Friday launched Timiza, a virtual banking service targeting Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s)
The service accessible via USSD or a mobile application is part of the bank’s five-year strategy to offer faster, cheaper and more efficient banking by going digital.
Speaking at the launch in Nairobi on Friday, Barclays Bank Managing Director Jeremy Awori said, ‘Timiza’ is the new way of investing for the bank to reach more customers.
“People don’t need to have an existing Barclays account; you can bank with Timiza regardless of the time and place.” Said Mr. Awori.
According to Awori, over 50 percent of people prefer to transact money using their mobile phones hence the move to launch Timiza.
Barclays bank head of Virtual Banking Andrew Muthiga said that Timiza distinguishes itself from similar products in that it also offers a taxi hailing service, personal accident and funeral insurance covers among other additional benefits.
“Customers can access instant loans of up to Kshs 150,000 without collateral or presenting audited bank statements. The bank uses other proxies such as Mpesa and Credit Reference Bureau records to determine a client’s financial potential,” said Muthiga.
According to the bank, they are working with both the government and corporates to commercialize good ideas through solutions such as crowdfunding to fund businesses in their growth stage.
“We bring in investors with higher risk appetite and have come up with attractive interests rates as low as 6.17 percent on repayment of loans on Timiza,” added Muthiga.
Muthiga further stated that the bank does not only addresses the challenge on growth and scaling in small businesses but also aims to balance automating routine everyday transactions with face to face interactions to cater to wiser customer preferences.
Safaricom Consumer Business Unit Director Sylvia Mulinge present at the launch said that she is happy that companies are now adapting to change by understanding human behavior and going digital thus increasing their customer base and at the same time solving societal problems.
Barclays has partnered with Safaricom and Craft Silicon to target at least 5 million customers with their virtual banking platform Timiza in the next five years.
The service which can be accessed by dialing the USSD code *848# will also be rolled out in partnership with telecommunication companies across other African markets.