Even before the dust settles on interest rate debate and its implementation by banks, Equity Bank has launched EazzyBanking, a suit of solutions meant to make banking services go completely digital. Primed to further deepen the disruption of banks, for instance the reliance on branches and other brick and mortar bank assets, EazzyBanking proposes to drastically reduce this with bank also being a likely casualty.
One argument against capping interest rates by banks themselves was that it will lead to job losses because of the huge interest income in their balance that will be washed away. On the face value, Equity Bank is also shooting itself in the foot with these suit of products because its own manpower are at stake. But they are likely to have better thought it through and as an institution familiar with banking disruption in Kenya, it is not an unfamiliar territory for them. It is likely they will need to hire marketing agents to sell these products.
Equity Bank has been at the heart of taking banking to the unbanked in many ways. From opening accounts with no balance, to mobile banking, to faster loan processing and poor in society who the bank agents went to their doors to urge them to open accounts, it has pushed all other banks to rethink their strategy.
These suit of products also come with some experience in digital banking, especially through the mobile phone that the bank has been implementing. Today, more than 80 percent of all loans in the bank are being accessed through the mobile phone showing an increasing desire for self service banking.
“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 said while launching the suite of digital products.
In the process, Equity Bank enters the third phase of its growth and evolution characterized by technology and digitization, making banking easy. First phase of ten years from 2004, the bank reached out to unbanked populations and gave them a safe and secure place to keep their money, away from the mattress. Second phase of ten years, the bank expanded to rural areas deepening financial inclusion and debunking the myth that rural areas were not bankable.
Dr. Mwangi is confident that these products are tried and tested and will guarantee success. There are experts in data security, big data capture and analytics ensuring an operating environment that is highly available, secure, scalable and interoperable who it roped in as part of the products.
Some of the partners include Oracle who have provided the software and hardware technology (engineered platform and cloud service), Apigee who have provided the API platform to support the self-service developers’ portal for innovations, Airtel who support the Equitel MVNO capability, OpenWay who have provided the card management platform and Infosys who have provided the core banking platform. Experian MicroAnalytics have provided the bank with a robust credit scoring platform that aggregates all our data sources to analyze the customers. Other partners include Paladion for security operations monitoring, CISCO for Network infrastructure, and IBM for core banking infrastructure.
The Eazzy suite of banking products are under a banking app known as EazzyApp, an interoperable payment platform, EazzyLoan; a solution to help Chamas, investment clubs and groups manage their joint finances and investments and EazzyPay; a mobile based loan product.
EazzyChama is a retail internet portal where customers can manage their bank accounts. EazzyChama is not just for the normal chamas but also for joint account holders and investment groups.
Others are EazzyNet platform which enables PayPal account holders to withdraw their funds to their Equity Bank accounts within three business days. A cash and liquidity management solution for SMEs known as EazzyBiz, and banking capabilities packaged as APIs exposed through Eazzy APIs platform.
In due time, the banks said that its bank branches will transition to centers of excellence focusing on high value transactions banking for SME and corporate banking.