NCBA Group is set to launch its mobile phone banking services M-Shwari in Ghana, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) through partnerships in efforts to grow further into a regional bank.
The group, which also operates in Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda, is in talks for partnerships with banks and telecom operators in the three countries for mobile phone banking services.
This signals that the Kenyan bank will seek to earn commissions from the deals over setting up brick-and-mortar operations in Ghana, Ethiopia and DRC.
NCBA has reaped huge rewards from pioneering mobile phone-based lending in Kenya after teaming up with telecoms operator Safaricom in 2012 to launch the dominant service, M-Shwari.
It wants to replicate this model outside East Africa, in particular virgin markets of Ethiopia and DRC—which have huge populations and a banking sector mainly focused on serving big companies, making them appealing to ambitious lenders in regional states in search of retail lenders and small traders for growth.
“In new markets the model will be to work with local banking and mobile partners to deliver our products. The countries of interest for now remain Ghana, Ethiopia and DRC – these added to our current five would make it eight countries.” NCBA Group chief executive John Gachora said in an interview.
However, Gachora did not disclose the banks and telcos that NCBA is seeking in the three markets. Telecom operators have expanded mobile financial services across Africa after the idea was pioneered by Safaricom with its M-Pesa service in 2007.