The Star (Nairobi)

22 April 2014

Kenya: Equity Bank Seeks to Grow Commissions From Cards

FRESH from successful bid to venture into telco markets, Equity bank is launching an onslaught on fledgling merchant business and payment process segment to grow its revenue from transaction fees and commissions.

Riding on the now standard chip-based Europay Mastercard Visa cards, the bank said it would soon gradually move all its transaction cards to Near Field Communications technology.

The NFC allows exchange of data between digital devices about 10 cm apart.

Successful implementation would enable customers to use a single card for all payments by tapping instead of swiping as is the case with point of sale technology, CEO James Mwangi said.

The bank said its Mastercard and Visa cards were NFC-enabled and that it will initially issue 300,000 cards.

"They are all tap and go, and all we need is to put the devices with the merchant (to)... move (away)from the more expensive POS to a device(based payment)," Mwangi said. "But we(also) need simulation and interoperability among all the players(using the same devices.)"

Chief officer for innovation and technology John Staley said the strategy was to "get all merchants to accept electronic payment" from any payment card processing companies.

The technology is already in use in the public transport sector where the lender said it has already issued about 400,000 Beba cards through which passengers pay for fare in selected commuter bus companies.

"We are seeing on average 7,000 to 8,000 people using Beba everyday," he said, adding that the bank was still recruiting PSV companies with an initial target of 30 ahead of planned mandatory transition to cashless fare payment system by July 2014.

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