Once Upon a time there was a monolithic system that was called MPESA, the system was the awe of all, friends and foe,and just like the proverbial story of the 3 little piggies it was targeted by several big bad wolves (YU Cash,Airtel Money etc), but the wolves huffed and puffed but since MPESA was housed in a brick house (At present M-Pesa’s has 15 million users conducting more than 2 million daily transactions, which by some estimates adds up to as much as 60 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.) they couldn’t do shyt…so most the wolves gave up and were content eating scraps as the piggies were safe. But the story doesn’t stop there….far from it….it goes on. The piggies lived in the brick house and grew hard headed….boastful you would say, they failed to innovate, they failed to let anyone in, they viewed everyone with scepticism and in so doing exposed there weak under belly.
But as Game of Thrones taught us ..winter is coming….soon there would be a bigger hurdle than the wolves they had fought…Enter MVNOs. Basically An MVNO is a wireless communications services provider that does not own the network over which it provides those services to customers. sasa ni nini hiyo Jaymo? Relax…..As we speak Kenya has licenced three mobile virtual network operators, Finserve Africa, Mobile Pay, and Zioncell Kenya. Of Interest to me here is Equity Bank’s Finserve , this is because Equity Bank is Kenya’s biggest lender with eight million account holders.Equity should be able to make its offerings attractive by providing links to its core banking services, which are not available through M-Pesa. So basically if I have an account with Equity they can quickly deprecate the need for an ATM and instead use a mobile Phone for everything from withdraws,purchases etc
Finserve is not Equity Bank’s first foray into mobile money. It previously partnered with Safaricom on M-Kesho, a banking and savings service that proved to be unsuccessful due to complications over revenue sharing between the stakeholders. Safaricom has since partnered with Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA) to launch a similar product branded as M-Shwari, which has signed up 7 million subscribers. On the strength of this adoption rate, CBA now claims to have overtaken Equity Bank as the lender with the highest number of retail loans.
I believe the biggest hurdle will be creating products that are appealing to the ordinary Mwananchi… screw the lipa na MPESA stuff, am talking real world issues like Request for salo advance via Mobile Money, a realtime fare systems for matatus etc. The second issue will also be an agent network that can rival Safaricom’s this will not happen overnight and will be expensive to roll out. But lets just wait and see