Equitel Kenya, Equity mobile banking service, was launched recently (Monday, July 20th 2015). It is registered under Equity Kenya’s subsidiary, Finserve Africa, and is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that runs on Airtel’s network.
Equitel Kenya has the lowest mobile banking charges so far, with users making deposits for free. The Equitel tariffs and charges for withdrawing have a maximum charge of less than fifty shillings, whereas Safaricom’s M-pesa Kenya has transaction rates and charges of up to Ksh 330.
Equitel is Equity Kenya’s solution for Kenyan’s who lack access to banking services. Equity Bank has set a goal of increasing access to banking services in Kenya – to reach over 90% of Kenyans within the next 30 years.
Equitel Kenya Tariffs and Charges
With its lower tariffs and charges, M-pesa Kenya will be Equitel Kenya’s main competitor. The two financial giants have some similarities and differences that can be exploited further to drive popularity among Kenyans.
Main Features of Equitel Kenya
Equity mobile banking will include a loan scheme with varying interest rates. According to the Equity Bank Group CEO, the Equitel mobile loan interest rates will depend on the customer’s risk rating. Those with the highest loan repayment risk will be charged a maximum of 3% monthly interest.
Thin SIM Card
Equitel Kenya has both the normal SIM card, plus the thin SIM – the new SIM card technology that is being used by less than 20 countries globally.
The thin SIM is more expensive than the normal SIM and will cost Ksh 500. This will include free Ksh 200 airtime and free activation.
The standard SIM cards are available to all Equity Bank customers for free. Open a free Equity Bank account to get the free SIM card.
Equitel Kenya users will be able to send and receive money from all mobile networks and banks in Kenya. Orange Money users, Airtel Money and M-pesa Kenya users can send, receive and withdraw cash with lower Equitel transfer charges.
Equitel Kenya’s SIM cards currently have the 0763 and 0764 prefix. Since the Equity mobile banking service “will be leveraging on the bank’s presence across the region”, the Equitel Kenya network already has over 1 million registered users.
Equitel Kenya Call Tariffs
In addition to sending and receiving money, Equitel Kenya’s users can make calls at Ksh 4 to any other network in Kenya, and within East Africa. An Equitel SMS will cost Ksh 1 to all networks.
Equitel Kenya’s biggest benefit to Kenyans will be the greatly reduced money transfer charges and tariffs. Most of their services attract zero charges.
The MVNO Users can check their account balance for free, change PIN at zero cost, deposit cash at no charge and the withdrawal rates have a maximum charge of Ksh 25.
Sending cash from Equitel Kenya to other mobile money networks such as M-pesa will attract a charge of 1% of the transaction value (with a Ksh 25 maximum). In contrast, Safaricom M-pesa Kenya charges Ksh 110 for sending any amount between Ksh 20,001 and Ksh 70,000.