Equity Bank beefs up merchant banking business with wider merchant tie ups

In an ongoing process geared at setting the pace for the full scale rollout of the Equity 3.0 strategy aimed at facilitating a cash lite economy in East Africa, Equity Bank has now confirmed its partnership with some of the world’s leading merchant business and payment processing firms.

The Bank, which reported a 58% growth on its payment processing and merchant business last year has managed to seal what is arguably sub-Sahara Africa’s widest network of best in class payment channel services and card business operators.

Speaking when he confirmed the development, Equity Bank Managing Director Dr. James Mwangi disclosed that the Bank is now a partner for American Express, Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, Google, China Union Pay, SWIFT, JCB, VFX (Equity Direct) and Diners Club.

To support the strategic partnerships, Equity Bank is now actively recruiting local merchants in a process technically known as merchant acquisition to facilitate the regional acceptance of American Express Cards among other payment solutions beyond the Bank’s channels.

The merchant acquisition process by Equity Bank, Dr. Mwangi confirmed, is also geared at providing alternative revenue streams for its business partners, who will enjoy commissions for card transactions.

Some of the recent merchants retained recently by Equity Bank to support American Express card business include retailers Nakumatt Holdings, hospitality concerns ArtCaffé, Heritage Hotels, Best Western Hotel, Imperial Hotel, Laico Regency, Leopard Beach Resort and Boma Hotels.

Equity Bank recently sealed an operating deal with American Express, the world’s largest credit card company by purchase volume. The partnership with American Express will also afford the Bank a rare opportunity to serve American Express Card Members visiting the East Africa region from any part of the world. Currently, American Express holds a portfolio of more than 107.2million cards in force worldwide with US$ 33billion annual revenues.

“At Equity Bank, our commitment is to best serve and meet the financial needs of our nearly 9 million customers. Our association with the world’s largest credit card companies and payment solution providers is therefore part of this commitment to deliver the best card solutions,” Dr. Mwangi affirmed.

And added: "Such partnerships are also in line with our Equity 3.0 business strategy of becoming a one stop shop for financial services and giving our customers the freedom of modern banking in today’s fast-paced world. Our investment in a robust IT platform continues to pay dividends and gives us the opportunity to continue investing in products and services that suit our customers who are increasingly becoming technology-driven and seeking borderless and seamless financial services."

Over the last year, Equity Group has made significant investments in its diaspora remittances, merchant acquiring infrastructure and banking and transaction processing by connecting to leading global payment systems.

Equity Bank is currently enjoying a market leadership slot for diaspora remittances with approximately 16.8% market share. Last year, more than US$ 185milion from the diaspora was channeled into the country through Equity Bank.

With its recent core banking software upgrade from Finacle v7 to Finacle v10 with enhanced multi-currency and multi country transactions, Equity Bank is now well placed to handle regional and international banking transactions seamlessly.

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About Equity Bank Ltd

Equity Bank is the leading inclusive bank in Africa by customer base, with nearly 9 million bank accounts which is over 50 % of all bank accounts in Kenya and has operations in Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda and Tanzania. The Bank is listed in Nairobi Securities Exchange and Uganda Securities Exchange. The vision of Equity Bank Ltd is to champion the social economic prosperity of the people of Africa while its purpose is to transform the lives and livelihoods of the people socially and economically by availing them modern, inclusive financial services that maximize their opportunities.

Equity Bank has been a leader in financial innovation. It was the first bank to introduce the EMV compliant ATM cards in the country and played a lead role in championing agency banking in Kenya that continues to demystify banking by taking financial services to the door steps of citizens in Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania. In 2011, Equity Bank was named Africa’s Most Innovative Bank by the African Banker for championing delivery channels that have taken financial services to the last mile.