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KCB and Safaricom collaborate to defend against competitor’s planned challenge

KCB Bank and Safaricom have announced a strategic partnership that is expected to reshape how millions of consumers in Kenya access financial and telecommunication services in the East African country.

The partnership will leverage both parties’ resources and distribution reach to extend services from upmarket urban centres all the way to rural villages.

KCB is the leading bank in Kenya, with assets of $3.67 billion at the end of 2013. This is in addition to having the most extensive network of bank branches in the East African country, with 182 in operation at the close of last year.

It has been speculated in the media that the partnership is a direct response to Equity Bank’s plan to roll out disruptive mobile banking services that rely on specialised ‘Thin SIM’ card technology, developed by its subsidiary Finserve Africa. The technology negates a mobile money customer’s need to obtain a new SIM card (or be forced to purchase dual SIM phones) when signing up for a mobile money service dependent upon an operator different to the customer’s call provider. A Thin SIM is one-tenth of a millimetre thick and sits on top of an existing SIM card.

A Safaricom press release alluded to the appeal for customers: “The partnership follows in global trends that have seen banks and telecommunications organisations engage in formal partnerships that enable them use their respective innovation and strategic strengths to jointly deploy products and solutions that address customer’s needs comprehensively”.

Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore, commented: “In the next few weeks we expect to offer our combined customer base the best-in-class of financial services and integrated communication solutions.  I am a personal believer that the competitive landscape requires closer collaboration between organisations who share similar beliefs of providing transformative products and services to the Kenyan consumers”.

Collymore also stated that the partnership would not only benefit SMEs but also maintain and strengthen Safaricom’s status as “partner of choice for business, government and NGOs and a major player in deepening financial inclusion”.

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