Equity’s mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) has rolled out 4G network in a bid to offer their customers improved Internet banking services.

Although COVID-19 restrictions have significantly disrupted Kenya’s economy, the pandemic has created new online opportunities for data business.

According to Equity Group results for the three months to March, the bank’s mobile network unit, Equitel, registered 163 per cent growth in the value of transactions to Kes421.8 billion from Kes160.5 billion during a similar stage in 2020.

As Equitel seeks a larger market share, Equity’s mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) has rolled out 4G network in a bid to offer their customers improved Internet banking services.

With its fourth-generation (4G) network, Equitel’s estimated 1.5 million customers will access faster browsing speeds to stream, download and upload their content.

Equitel now joins telcos Safaricom, Airtel, Telkom and Jamii Telecom in running 4G services in the country. Equitel customers can access the 4G SIM cards in various Equity Bank branches.

According to data from the communications industry regulator, Equitel controls 0.4 per cent of mobile data market same as Jamii Telcoms.

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Industry leader Safaricom controlled 68.2 per cent of followed by Airtel with 25.9 per cent and Telkom at 5.1 per cent.

Finserve Africa Managing Director, Lanre Bamisebi, who is also the Equity Group IT and Operations Director, said 4G would enhance customer experience, especially in the current environment where customers are working from home and require better connectivity.

Businesses across Kenya have been streamlining their operations to tap into the new wave of mobile payments that has been gaining speed during COVID year.

According to Finaccess MSE COVID-19 tracker survey,58 per cent of Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) in Kenya reported an uptick in customers paying digitally during the lockdown in 2020 compared with the period before the pandemic struck.

The report, which was published by the Central Bank of Kenya said that by March about 26 per cent of MSEs in the country reported an increase in customers paying for goods and services digitally compared with a similar time pre-COVID.

Equity Group’s first quarter results show that Equitel registered a 14 per cent growth in customer transactions to 74.8 million from 65.4 million during a similar period in 2020.

“We expect this to significantly accelerate our revenue growth and grow our active customer base,” added Lanre.

There was marked increase in digital transactions, with 58 per cent of firms that accepted mobile money payments prior to COVID-19, reporting a sharp increase in digital usage during lockdown.

However, this declined to 26 per cent by March this year, partly reflecting the banking industry regulator’s reversal in mobile money waivers.

Youth-owned businesses relied more on digital platforms to reach their customers, the Finaccess report said.

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