Equity Bank’s tech unit rolls out 4G network broadband

KENYA – Equity Group’s financial technology subsidiary Finserve, has upgraded to a high-speed Internet connection network in the battle for a larger share of the fast-growing mobile data business in Kenya dominated by Safaricom.

Finserve Ltd, which offers mobile telephony and Internet banking services on the Equitel platform, has rolled out 4G network broadband in a Covid-19 pandemic economy that has spurred demand for faster Internet connectivity to enable remote working and learning.

Mobile data has become a major driver of revenue in the telecoms sector.

Finserve says Equitel’s shift to a 4G high-speed broadband network offers its more than 1.5 million subscribers faster speeds to browse, stream, download and upload videos, as well as files at a time workplaces, are fast transitioning to a hybrid working model.

“We are delighted to launch the Equitel 4G services in the market, in line with strengthening Equitel’s capability as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). The new Equitel 4G SIM will address the issues of slow internet connection and limited data coverage,” Finserve Africa managing director Lanre Bamisebi said in a statement.

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

Equitel had a measly 0.4 percent share [172,118 subscribers] of the mobile data market whose subscriptions stood at 43,029,579 customers in March 2021, the latest statistics from the Communications Authority of Kenya shows.

Safaricom controlled 68.2 percent of the mobile data followed by Airtel with 25.9 percent, Telkom’s 5.1 percent, while Jamii Telcoms had the same share as Equitel at 0.4 percent.

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

Lanre Barmisebi – Managing Director, Finserve Africa

Finserve has backed the deployment of 4G network to help it eat into the market share of rivals (Safaricom and Airtel) who have for years been running on the high-speed spectrum, with the market leader now starting to upgrade its site to 5G network.

The firm says the 4G network-enabled SIM cards are already on sale and are doubling data bundles purchased by clients.

Equitel charges Sh999 (US$9.15) for a 2,048MB monthly data bundle, which is slightly costlier than main rivals.

While Equity’s telco platform has struggled to grow market share for browsing, calling and texting businesses, its mobile banking offering has registered considerable growth with transaction value for the year ended December 2020 jumping 50 percent year-on-year to KSh934.2 billion (US$8.55 billion).

Equity said KSh421.8 billion (US$3.9 billion) were transacted on Equitel in the first quarter of the year 2020, a 163 percent surge over KSh160.5 billion (US$1.47 billion) in 2019.

Equitel is the leading multi-channel money product in Kenya offering customers the convenience, accessibility and ease of transacting through a variety of bank channels including ATMs, online banking, bank branches and agents.

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