As the country we live in continues to mature into a technologically advanced society, our money is quickly being transformed into plastic and digital numbers.
Right now Kenya is still a society that very much likes cash, but the rise and popularity of services such as M-Pesa, Equitel and card payments is an example of how quickly things can change.
The main goal is to create a cashless society. On average, Kenyans move over Sh11 billion per day through cashless platforms. Also, the gradual increase in the use of card payments reinforces the public’s growing trust in the banking sector.
The switch from paper to plastic is now not confined to America and Europe only. Rather, all throughout sub-Sahara Africa (Kenya included) consumers have accepted credit and debit cards enthusiastically.
While all this is lovely, some consumers have a gross misconception that the use of credit cards as a form of cashless payments is the preserve of the elitist club. This is not true.
But like most things in this country, it’s more complicated than that because, with so many Credit Card brands (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, Union Pay & American Express) on the market, consumers may wonder which one is the right one to choose?
It’s a question that has haunted so many first-timers and even incumbents who have been using credit cards for many years. Because again, like most things in this country, all these brands have marketed themselves as the real deal.
Everything from sexy designs of the card itself, to the promise of making lightning-fast – seamless swipes and heavy emphasis on Security, – Credit Card brands have finely curated their marketing messages to entice consumers’ taste buds.
But here’s the thing. They all qualify. It is true that the payments are seamless and it is also true that all these credit card brands offer some of the mightiest levels of security for their users.
Which brings back the one question… which one is the right one to choose?
Equity Bank of Kenya understands this dilemma and has gone on to find innovative ways to handle its customers – operating bank accounts. The lender has forged alliances with VISA, MasterCard, Discover, Union Pay & American Express and all customers have to do, is choose which Credit Card works for them.
In simple, we can call this; the ‘democratization of Credit Cards’ – a first by any lender in the country. Such freedom to choose, such understanding and empathy could perhaps explain Equity’s large loyal customer base.
The Pan-African lender has now diversified this card offering to a total of 27,576 Point of Sale (POS) terminals across 6 African countries where it operates. Customers can purchase goods and make payments in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, DRC, and South Sudan.
In addition to this, customers who travel frequently can reap the benefits of having premium cards as their travel companion. Through these premium cards, they can enjoy incentives such as flight and travel discounts, insurance benefits, hotel discounts and the possibility of earning and redeeming rewards and experiences, in multiple countries across the world.
A second option that the lender has presented even to non-account holders is the Pre-Paid card option – available in multiple currencies and can easily be topped up through mobile money services among others.
This type of customer-oriented innovation scheme pioneered by Equity bank is also solid evidence that Kenya as a country has joined the A-list countries with more developed financial systems and that our underlying financial infrastructure has been modernized.
From the beginning, Equity Bank has stood out for the sheer scale of its instinctive empathy towards its customers of any kind. It seems to have figured out that the credit card market is essentially a two-sided market that benefits two distinct groups.
On one hand, consumers will opt for a particular credit card brand, eg Visa or MasterCard, if it is widely accepted as a means of payment by Merchants. One the other hand, A merchant – for instance, a Supermarket will more willingly accept payment from a particular Credit Card brand if lots of consumers use it.
Now, this freedom to choose credit card brands, A freedom that Equity has bestowed on its customers – plus the corresponding POS terminals that can process all of them, means that everyone – customer or merchant will be able to perform their transactions seamlessly and each party will have ‘played their cards right’.
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