The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Equity to Offer Islamic Banking

Equity Bank, the largest local bank by consumer base, plans to start offering shariah compliant products and services by the end of this year. Chief executive, James Mwangi said the bank has received the necessary approval and is putting up supporting systems to further grow its consumer base.

He said offering Islamic banking products was also a way of extending its financial inclusion agenda in the region. "This is also a good business opportunity and we also do not want to be a bank that's inclined to only one religion," Mwangi said. He was meeting global officials of Infosys, providers of Finacle technology used by the bank.

Equity has subsidiaries in Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan and Rwanda which are all multi-religious. In the Kenyan market, Gulf African and First Community Bank are fully fledged Islamic banks. Other banks with some Shariah compliant products include Barclays, Chase Bank and Fidelity Bank.

Equity is in the process of upgrading its banking technology from Finacle 7.0 to Finacle 10, a more superior version which guarantees more security in online transactions. Mwangi said this will facilitate the bank as it also plans to start diaspora targeted products.

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