Kenya's Equity Bank has officially launched its mobile money service Equitel in a bid to take on the hugely popular Safaricom-owned M-Pesa.
Equity is offering customers super Thin SIMs that are applied as an overlay to an original SIM card to offer mobile financial services irrespective of carrier control. Users can then access a range of services, such as money transfers, loans and insurance.
In addition, thanks to a recently-secured mobile virtual network operator license, the bank is also taking on Safaricom on its own turf by offering voice, SMS and data services.
Equity, which claims to have already signed up one million customers for Equitel during a pilot phase, says that it plans to use mobile phones to boost the percentage of Kenyans with banking services from around 53% to 90%.
"Internet banking has been a preserve of a few but now with Equitel this will be a mass market offering. It will enable all customers to conveniently access their bank accounts for 24 hours 7 days a week," according to James Mwangi, CEO, Equity Bank.
Safaricom had tried to block the rival service but lost a legal battle in which it claimed that Equity's dual SIM had the potential steal data from the main SIM and pass it on to third parties.