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Kenya’s Equity Bank Determined to Challenge M-Pesa’s Monopoly with Thin Sims

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1414-141003t.pngIn a move that’s set to revolutionize mobile money in Kenya and change the status quo of Kenya mobile money kings, Equity Bank through it’s supplier Taisys announced it will be issuing a ultra-thin mobile banking smart SIM.

Though it has been bone a long journey to these baby steps, Equity Bank will begin issuing the thin SIMs to its customers to transfer funds, do micro-payments and other mobile financial services using Taisys’s “mBanking” and “duoSIM”technology.

Though approved by Communications Authority of Kenya, Equity Bank’s Finserve Africa or Equitel to the public, the ultra-thin smart SIM – duoSIM – which are to be directly attached the surface of an existing telco-issued SIM, and placed into the mobile device have raised questions on the safety of the people’s mobile money accounts with Safaricomstanding out to call for more investigations into the technology.

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Kenya’s political elite had also shown their doubts and fear of the new technlogy by blocking the move for the roll out and later asking the firm to refund any losses incured in case they do to anyone using the technology. Equity Bank aims to venture into mobile banking transactions, something it had tried earlier with M-Kesho, a product which has since been shelved. These will also renew it’s rivalry with Safaricom which runs deep but for users, this is another chance for democracy in the market.

This move aims to break M-Pesa’s monopoly iin mobile payments, which we highly doubt will be an easy battle  as Equity has just 9 million bank customers and this doesn’t mean all of them will shift to its new business offering. Our friends at Equitel think it’s so revolutionary, we think Safaricom might give it’s customers more reasons (offers/services) to stay.

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The duoSIM technology though will help Equity Bank to achieve it’s dreams and do it without Safaricom, unlike other banks which have had to pay alliegience to offer similar services. The battle for the voice and data market will also be interesting with more players coming in. Tangaza Pesa also recently announced plans to use the thin SIM technology and also got a mobile virtual network operator licence. This will be a great space to watch.

The battle to serve 40 million Kenyans has began, and it’s the 14 million mobile money users who are up for grabs first.

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Equitel’s case can be said to be solid because it’s a Mwananchi bank and street smart The bank gave out accounts to people who were outcasts from the banking class of those days including students and mama mbogas. If it’s nine million customers are religious followers-it won’t cost the bank a dime to sign them up or even know them (KYC). The bank wouldn’t need to use M-Pesa agent network because it already has its own robust agent network countrywide.

Equity is not just Kenyan, you can find it in any East African country such and it’s strong in Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda.

On costing, Equity Bank can charge it’s mobile money fees as low as it wants as it pays no bank to be it’s holding bank and the recent Mc Kinsey guys could be doing as much as we can come to terms with even shaping the firm’s PR and marketing plans.
The firm is not in the telecoms business, all it wants is to protect its customers and even gain more as banking is going more mobile than it was when it launched as a mere building society. Profits from data, voice etc will be just an added advantage.

Apart from the Equity story being so inspirational to Kenyans, the leadership is also solid. The market is open for both.

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Sam Wakoba
Sam Wakobahttp://techmoran.com
Taking you on tour through Africa's tech and business ecosystem, one story at a time since 2010! Based out of Nairobi, Kenya, Sam is the founder and managing director of Moran Media, which runs  TechMoran.com, various other digital platforms and a startup incubation hub for Kenya's youthful entrepreneurs. Drop me a mail at [email protected]

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