Equity bank's telecoms subsidiary, Finserve has progressed well in deploying the recently licenced Mobile Virtual Network Operations (MVNO) and is currently awaiting the roll out of SIM cards bearing "0763xxxx" prefix.
The roll out is expected to bring more freedom and choice to consumers of both mobile telephony as well as mobile money transfer services.
Speaking during an investors briefing at bank's headquarters, James Mwangi, MD, Equity Bank said that the SIM cards bearing the prefix 0763*** were already in use for the internal staff and a countrywide roll out for all Equity Bank customers will take place once they get an approval from the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK), probably before end of July.
Mwangi noted that the real innovation of Equity's MVNO lies in the use of thin SIM card technology which will provide every Kenyan with a feature phone the opportunity to convert it into a dual SIM phone.
The new innovation will empower an estimated 25 million Kenyans to have a choice of at least two concurrent telecom service providers and also save them the inconveniences of changing SIM cards while saving the country billions of shillings that would go into buying dual SIM phones.
"Our guiding philosophy and vision is to empower our people who are financially excluded or poorly banked access to banking and ICT solutions that are readily available to affluent members of society albeit at an affordable cost," said Mwangi.
The new SIM cards will impact the lives of the users and also enhance security of mobile banking via data encryption. Easy access to USSD and SMS will also enable Equity Bank to drive the cost of mobile banking down by breaking the commercial barriers hitherto placed by some telecom operators which limit access to mobile banking services to the public through high charges.
Dual SIM phones capability will also easily erode monopolistic power in the telecom sector and level the playing field which is essential for a competitive environment where innovation, price and product will drive market behavior. However, it is not clear yet what the new SIM card will be called.