Monday, November 16, 2015

Equity Bank 3.0: Agency Banking & Equitel

A few days after Equity Bank released their Q3 results, the bank had another media briefing. CEO James Mwangi explained the stuff he had said earlier about the shareholding change, agency banking, superiority as a Telco and expansion plans for Africa.

Notes from the Live stream

Shareholding Change:
  • Helios have exited from the bank ahead of the end of the seven year life of the fund. It was a closed fund.
  • Equity listed in 2006 to discover  the price of the shares and on listing it was Kshs 50 per share  more than they had been offered
  • They chose Helios over 5 other investors. Helios had patient investors (CDC, IFC, Soros)
  •  -Helios is an example of what private equity can do and the bank transformed from Kshs 2 billion to 65 billion in shareholder funds without having to do a rights issues, or issue shares and went from 20 billion to 400 billion of assets
  • Helios exit was not a buy back, but a sale to third parties including Norfund, Genesis, Investec, NSSF Kenya, NSSF Uganda and Blackrock - some of who paid a premium of 10% above the market in order to secure large blocks of shares
  • The sale has allowed local shareholders to take up more shares in the bank and reduce the foreign ownership from 49% to 42%
  • Helios netted about $500 million from the sale of there stake in Equity 
  • Investors who missed out include China Construction Bank, China Development Bank, Temasek (singapore) and PIC (South Africa)

Agency Banking: 
is one of their most misunderstood and underrated products in which they outsource services /costs to third parties for a fee, and share prosperity with their customers (who become suppliers of Equity services)
  • Top agents are doing 300-400 transactions per day (one in Kitale is doing 500) and top agents earn Kshs 750,000 to 1 million per month
  • Going to add insurance, stockbroking - and transform 20,000 businesses. They want them to be profitable, so won't register a flood of new agents (e.g. 100,000 who will reduce the pie)
  • In August, agents transacted Kshs 29 billion (2/3 is deposit, 1/3 is withdrawal) - agents have too much liquidity - that's why Equity/Equitel money transfer is free  as it sweeps up excess cash at the agents 
  • Hope to use agents to bring down their cost income ratio down to 32%

Equitel / Phone Banking: 
  • Equity is not a telco - it is a channel for banking service with value add for telco - so customers don't have to carry two phones
  • Average sending amount is 2,000 - 3,000
  • Mwangi asked Kenyans to furiously take up this product as it solves two problems - that of too much cash at the Equity agents and customers solve their problem of  exhobitant money transfer costs. Equitel did 8 million transactions in August double the numbers down by agents
  • Using USSD, customers used to do 2 transactions per month. That is now to 19 transactions per month with Equitel, and they hope to go 120 per month when they add payments.
  • Kshs 4 billion has been disburse via Equitel . 1 million people have got these loans and the average is 4,000 or 5,000. They are going to increase the loan duration to 3 months, then 6, and will do loans of 3-5 years eventually. 
  • Used to process 3,500 loans a day, but that's now 12,000 loans per day via mobile. loans starts at 1 a.m. peak and are disburse by 5 a.m. before the branches open. 
  • Credit applications takes 2 minutes to check with the credit reference, the national identity bureau and also come up with a score analysis. 
  • You can send money to any telco, any bank account, any debit/credit card in the world
  • Next is bill presentation; you give your bank a list of recurring payments, and they will  check the bill for you and ask you to confirm payment for electricity, water, dust etc.
  • Cardless banking - no need to carry an ATM card. 
  • Other products are virtualization of chamas (software that keeps meeting minutes, chama balances, contributions, reminders, and disburses member loans by phone ( requests done by secretary, approved by chairman, paid by treasurer etc. all by mobile phone) 
  • Harambees (fund raisers are also virtualized:  You can see how much has been raised, who has donated a goat etc. 
  • Everyone in Kenya can be an airtime reseller and earn a10% commission 
  • Equity Life will have medial advice, agricultural advice (trying to map all soils in the country to better advise farmers on fertilizer), education (they have put curriculum from standard 4 to form 4 for kids to revise and do daily homework), financial literacy etc 
  • It has free insurance for anyone who spends Kshs 250 per month

John Staley, the Director of Finance & Innovation, said Equitel was a free channel that enables them to do secure transactions that were not possible by USSD before and they will soon be rolling out a secure mobile app.

James Mwangi confirmed that a move by Safaricom to hike up the costs of Equitel to bank transfers had been shot down and such regulatory approval decisions will be made by third parties of payment companies and banks (including Equity).  

Finally Equity are about conclude their purchase of ProCredit Bank in DRC with most regulatory approvals received and others that they have applied for (agency, mobile) pending -  and one of their big take on's will be to process payroll of all civil servants in the DRC.  

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