Customers of Equity Bank’s mobile money service, Equitel, will now enjoy sending money to family and friends at no cost with withdraw of any amount from their mobile phones attracting a maximum fee of Ksh25.
The mobile banking service is set to launch in two weeks’ time and will include the issuance of the bank’s thin SIM cards, whose function is to act as a bridge between the primary SIM card and the mobile device.
Equity bank has already began the distribution of the thin SIM cards to its customers at its banking halls despite a second court case that was launched on Tuesday against the thin SIMs by one of Equity’s customers.
“We have received all the regulatory approvals from the CA (Communications Authority) and the Central Bank of Kenya. We have also scaled up the pilot and the Equitel SIM cards are now available in all banking halls,” said James Mwangi, Equity Bank’s CEO.
The thin SIM technology by the bank has been a controversial subject in recent weeks attracting opposition from Kenya’s largest mobile service provider Safaricom, who claim that the cards pose a risk of data theft and hacking for its customers.
Equity has been given one year by the Communications Authority to pilot the thin SIM technology, and if during that period the service is proven to breach customer’s data, it could be retracted.
The new technology has also attracted claims that the bank has plans to set up a telecommunications firm, but Equity’s CEO has dismissed the claims.
“What Equity is doing is giving its customers a delivery channel that enables them to do banking on their phones and laptops, but since we are using a SIM we will offer voice data as value-add,” said Mwangi.
The mobile money service will allow customers to access their bank accounts through their mobile phones and send money to customers subscribed to the other mobile money services such as M-Pesa, Airtel Money and Orange Money.
This new move by Equity to allow for free money transfer service and withdrawal at a very low cost could attract opposition from Safaricom, who charge up to Ksh110 to send money and up to Ksh330 for withdrawal.