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Equity Bank Group strengthens its fundamentals while expenses of ICT, Innovation and Product Rollout Slows Profit Growth To 7%

Equity Bank Group’s focus on enhancing affordability, accessibility and convenience has seen its growth momentum maintained for the period ended 30th September 2013.

The regional banking group has posted a 17% growth in customer deposits, a growth of Kshs.28 billion to Kshs.190 billion up from Kshs.162 billion. The impressive growth has been enabled by massive investment in agency banking and mobile banking facilitating easy accessibility convenience and affordability. Customer numbers have now grown to 8.5 million signifying an achievement in pursuit of inclusive banking.

Bolstered by a 30% reduction in interest rate and a focus on the SME segment, the group’s loan book registered a 21% growth to Kshs.159 billion up from KShs. 136 billion posted in September 2012. However the interest income grew by only 4% to Kshs.23.6 billion up from Kshs.22.7 billion as a result of reduction of chargeable interest rate.

Other income, transactions and commission grew by 12% to Kshs.10.6 billion up from Kshs.9.4 billion on the back of increased number of customers due to greater affordability, accessibility and convenience delivered through sustained innovation, agency banking, mobile banking, payment connectivity and investment in ICT solutions.

The number of customers using mobile banking has increased to 2.7 million up from 2 million as at 30th September 2012 while the number of operational agents has grown to over 9,000.

Total operating expenses grew by 19% to Kshs.17.6 billion from Kshs.14.9 mainly driven by operating costs that grew by 15% and provisions to take care of the trailing effects of last year’s high interest rates on NPLs. Operating costs were driven by significant costs of creating the agency network and costs of developing, hiring and training staff to manage SME sector and build Supreme Banking centres. ICT costs have increased significantly as the group upgraded its system and data centre, trained staff in simulating the change of its core banking software from Finacle version 7 to Finacle version 10. As a result profits of the group grew by 7% to KShs 12.6 billion up from Kshs 11.8 billion before tax. Profit after tax grew to Kshs.8.9 billion up from KShs 8.3 billion last year.

Equity Group in the last one year has invested massively in creating infrastructure for merchant business, diaspora remittances and banking and transaction processing by connecting to all global payment systems, American Express (AMEX), Diners Club, Visa Personal Payments, MasterCard, JCB of Japan, Union Pay of China and digital payments offered by Google and PayPal. Equity Group has also invested in a 300 seat Contact Centre to handle customer enquiries through calls and social media platform such as Facebook and Twitter.

In addition the Group has also invested in 3 of the latest and world’s largest IBM Power 7 servers enabling it to increase its processing capability massively and achieve a high availability environment. The Group has also invested significantly in upgrading Way 4 switch, payment gateway and mobile banking by the purchase of an ORACLE Super Cluster to enable migration of its switch, payment gateway and mobile banking system.

In July, Equity Group entered into a partnership with Airtel Money to offer comprehensive M-Commerce solutions to more Kenyans countrywide. The service is available to all Equity Bank customers who are subscribers of Airtel thus enabling them to perform agency cash transactions at Equity branches and has also enabled Airtel money customers to withdraw and deposit money at any Equity Bank branch or Agency Countrywide

“With the fundamentals strengthened, massive investment made and improving macro-economic environment creating huge opportunities, the outlook for 2014 looks promising,” said Dr Mwangi.

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