Africa: Swedish Fintech Okapi, Ecobank Partner for Africa's Unbanked

In a move aimed at promoting financial inclusion, Okapi Finance has entered into a partnership with Ecobank, as the company expands its footprint across Africa.

In the arrangement, customers of the two institutions transfer cash from Okapi wallet to Ecobank account and vice-versa at no cost.

Okapi Finance launched in Kenya in August with more than 100,000 subscribers at the time and an ambitious plan is reaching 145 million subscribers in Africa in the next 10 years.

The partnership will also enable customers to move cash to local banks in Kenya through their Okapi wallet or Ecobank's Xpress account, a virtual account hosted on the Okapi wallet.

A customer must download the Okapi App on their mobile phone in order to transfer money or make payments.

The two institutions said that their partnership was geared towards promoting financial inclusion and a cashless society. Statistics indicate that close to 80% of the African population remains unbanked.

Patrick Kihara, Okapi East Africa Country Manager, notes: "Our mission is to bank the unbanked not only in Kenya but also entire Africa. We want our customers to be able to have a bank account and save."

He added that this will promote financial security for customers now that they have access to a bank account through the Okapi app.

"All they have to do is to join Okapi to have their Ecobank Xpress account activated," he said.

He added, "With the global economy venturing into making transactions cashless and with the advancing technological developments, a cashless society is looming and may be closer than any of us expect. We are pleased to partner with Ecobank and we believe this will serve our customers better."

Okapi Finance Chief Executive Officer, Gisele Mwepu, says, "Ecobank, being the Pan Africa bank with operations in 33 countries across Africa, is a great partner for Okapi towards achieving its twin goals of promoting financial inclusion across Africa and creating a connected financial sector. I believe that interoperability between solutions in Africa is the key to achieving financial inclusion and to facilitate transactions between different countries in Africa."

Ecobank Kenya's Managing Director and Regional Executive for Central, Eastern and Southern Africa Sam Adjei said, "Partnering with Okapi will enable us to scale up business touch points in addition to engendering financial inclusion which is a key proposition under our digitisation agenda."

Adjei added, "This partnership is already bearing some positive impact where people in some informal settlements in Nairobi are able to transfer money and make payments conveniently and at a reduced cost, in order to access basic hygiene services among other things."

Headquartered in Sweden, Okapi's mission is to bank the unbanked by providing financial inclusion and increasing access to financial services.

Apart for having access to a savings account, Okapi customers are able to do transfers, payments, pay their insurance premium. Customers can also move money between Okapi and Visa as well as Visa card to card in real-time.

Okapi services are accessible through authorized agents, Okapi website or Okapi Mobile App available on Android and IOs mobile operating systems. Okapi customers can register online or by visiting an agent.

Incorporated in Lomé, Togo in 1988, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated ('ETI') is the parent company of Ecobank.

It is a full-service bank providing wholesale, retail, investment and transaction banking services and products to governments, financial institutions, multinationals, international organizations, medium, small and micro businesses and individuals.

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