By now, it is a known fact that Kenya as a nation has a highly liberal approach when it comes to banking and finance. It is this same approach that has allowed the country to really bridge the gap between those who bank and those who don’t. Financial inclusion has continually been the top priority for multiple financial institutions in the country, set-ups that have encouraged even those who don’t have bank accounts to have a certain extent of power over money.
It is also known that following the M-Pesa launch in 2007, masses of people suddenly got the wind of mobile money benefits and quickly began to use the fintech app. In the next four years, M-Pesa saw an enormous rise in the customer base, 2011 reporting 17 million users only in Kenya. Ever since many other companies have joined the bandwagon and created a positive impact on not only making the fintech sector viable but also leaving an imprint on user experience.
One company that has been part of this surge of innovation in the fintech sector in Kenya, is Finserve. It operates as what one would define as an MVNO – Mobile Virtual Network Operator. So, while essentially Finserve is a wireless communications provider, it does not own the wireless network infrastructure it operates on (in this case, it is Airtel). Founded in 2014, Finserve is owned by the Equity Holdings Group and as its fintech subsidiary, has its headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.
What has kept Finserve in the news?
As one of the best-known fintech companies in Africa, Finserve has constantly brought the bar up, in one way or another. For one, the company is owned by, i.e. Equity Holdings Group is, in fact, Kenya’s largest banking group. Secondly, Finserve caters to almost all of the digital requirements of the Equity Group, having generated robust applications of its own that are now accessed by other companies as well, large and small.
Soon after its launch, Finserve (operating under the trade name of Equitel), Finserve revolutionized the way its users experienced mobile services. It was done predominantly by offering super slim SIMs, enabling people to access multiple mobile networks despite having single SIM phones.
Over the years, this fintech company in Kenya has also become the reason for the excellent performance of the Equity Group. In 2018, the group declared that it had been able to take over 60% of the merchant banking market, as a result of Finserve’s POS efforts of bringing together wallets, merchants, channels and banks into the same picture.
What products are Finserve known for?
As an Africa fintech company, Finserve is known for its consistent innovation, which it has channeled towards multiple offerings.
Rolled out initially in 2014, and then tested, revamped and re-rolled back out in 2015, Equitel is a Finserve product that works on the theme set out by the Equity Group, that of ‘inclusion’. It is a mobile banking service that allows its users to do more with both the telecom aspect of the service as well as the money aspect. Equitel enables people to send, receive and withdraw money. Cross-border payments are a part and parcel of the package, as well as accessing loans, insurance and making investments. The reason why Equitel created quite a buzz back at the time it was launched, was because it was the only service that came with super slim SIMs that could be used even in single SIM phones. The idea was to take advantage of more networks available to customers.
– Jenga PGW
The Kenya fintech scene has increasingly become about normalising online transactions and easing payment processes. Finserve’s flagship product Jenga PGW is meant to refine the online payment landscape. It looks at being a single point source for many wallets, banks and authorities to blend into a systematic whole so that data transfer is efficient and secure. Jenga PGW is PCI DSS Level 1 secure and offers lightning-fast checkouts, addressing the issues of safety and time in the same breath.
– Jenga API
The other fintech product owned by Finserve is Jenga API, a third-party API integration service. Built keeping developers in mind, the service is a confluence of fintech along with apps and platforms. At the user level, Jenga API targets businesses, which are looking for a seamless platform that addresses all the nuances around financial transactions. Finserve is able to touch the lives of more than 4 million people with their APIs. Sending, buying, paying, credits, accounting as well as KYC, AML and CRB querying can take place as a result of the Jenga API integration service.
mKey is Kenya’s first keyboard app, which put Finserve into a different league for its innovation and intention. mKey is a user-friendly app that can be used for an enhanced keyboard experience on Android phones. That apart, the product also stays true to Finserve’s spirit of financial freedom and inclusion by offering options to borrow, buy and send money. What’s more, it even comes with its own custom set of emojis, set to the flavours of the Kenyan cultural context.