MVNOs partner to deliver mobile banking to Kenya

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Effortel has joined forces with Equitel to provide Kenyan mobile subscribers with an integrated banking approach via a mobile network.
Effortel has joined forces with Equitel to provide Kenyan mobile subscribers with an integrated banking approach via a mobile network.

Effortel, a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) and enabler, has joined forces with Equitel, another MVNO, to provide Kenyan mobile subscribers with Africa's first fully integrated banking approach via a mobile network.

The technical and administrative sides of Equitel's MVNO partnership with Kenya's most popular retail bank, Equity Bank, are managed by Effortel, as part of a project that aims to bring a more mobile and integrated banking experience to East Africa.

Equitel's MVNO says it is gaining 'significant traction' in the mobile money space, with 450 000 users having signed up for the service to date.

Arkadi Panitch, founder and CEO of Effortel, says: "Mobile money services are a clear success story in the African region. Mobile money transfer services have thrived over the last few years and now banks in Africa are developing their own branded services. Equity Bank has a lot of experience in the mobile banking space, but by partnering with Equitel it has a much stronger mobile banking proposition. We worked closely with Equitel to develop a fully secure and integrated mobile service."

Effortel's CMO Liudvikas Andriulis adds Equity Bank recognised East African banking institutions had limited infrastructure, and this, combined with a surge in mobility, was driving the mobile banking phenomenon.

Most people were looking for more than just the wire transfer functionality that traditional mobile wallet services were offering, he explains.

Andriulis points out Equity Bank acted on this demand by leveraging Equitel's existing MVNO expertise to develop an entirely new approach to mobile banking.

Effortel is also responsible for the day-to-day technical operations and administrative management of the service, and its technology platform delivers core network capability, CRM and billing systems.

The Effortel platform also supports a number of value-added services Equitel provides to its customers, including a branded mobile banking service which allows users to check balance updates, make payments and withdraw money from ATMs without the need of a debit card - the customer simply enters a PIN code sent directly to their phone via USSD.

In addition, it offers 'humanitarian' services including 'Mama' - USSD and SMS updates to pregnant women offering help - and advice through an education scholarship programme, powered by SMS through an initiative called Wings to Fly. It also supports free access to Wikipedia.

Targeting the unbanked segment the services are marketed under the slogan My Money, My Life, My Phone.

In conclusion, Panitch says Effortel has a history of working with large non-telecoms brands, enabling them to introduce their own mobile service propositions. "Our platform delivered one of the first major retail MVNOs with Carrefour and this time we have played an integral role in the rollout of a new, and innovative, mobile banking service."

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