Equitel launches thin SIM cards for mobile banking

Mobile Money Services - Development Planning Unit University College London - FlickrThe service will allow free money transfer to any mobile money service and to any bank account in Kenya. (Image source: Development Planning Unit University College London/Flickr)Kenya’s Equity Group Holdings has launched its thin SIM mobile banking and telecom service in the country under its Equitel brand, which is already a mobile virtual network operator

The thin SIM cards are 0.1 mm in thickness and are meant to be placed on top of users’ existing normal SIM cards. This will allow users to access financial services along with voice, messaging and data services.

James Mwangi, group managing director at Equity Group Holdings, said that the service is meant to promote mobile access to financial services in the country. “Fifty three per cent of our population being banked is good. But it is not good enough because other civilisations are banked up to 98 per cent. And we have left half of our population not being included with financial services,” he said. He announced that one million of Equity Bank’s nine million customers already use Equitel services.

The service will include free mobile money transfer to any mobile money service and to any bank account in the country. Mwangi added that the service could save Kenyans about US$620mn, which they had been charged against mobile money transfers during 2014. “By offering money transfer free, we are ultimately removing barriers to financial inclusion,” he said.

Airtel Kenya had already been offering free money transfer to any network. Equitel has been using Airtel Kenya’s infrastructure since being granted a one-year conditional approval in September last year from both Kenya’s Communications Authority and the Central Bank to offer mobile phone services.

Safaricom had made profits of more than US$310mn from its M-PESA operations last year. The introduction of Equitel’s free money transfer service could affect this revenue stream for Safaricom.

The thin SIM cards will not be given to customers for free. They cost the company about US$6 each to source from Taiwan-based Taisys Technologies that manufactures the cards. This cost will be passed on to customers, according to company officials.

Equitel is the brand name for Equity Group Holding’s fully-owned subsidiary Finserve Africa.

twn Are you sure that you want to switch to desktop version?