Ecobank plans to use its app to make traditional bank accounts relevant in Africa
For the past 15 years, the growth of mobile phones in Africa has helped fill the void poor banking infrastructure has created – with the technology being used to address the needs of the unbanked.
For example, east Africa’s mobile money platform M-Pesa has allowed users to store and transfer money digitally via their phones; Zoona in Malawi and Zambia uses mobile phones and a network of kiosks to enable consumers to easily transfer money; and Kenya’s Tala offers microloans by analysing the data on an individual’s smartphone and determining their credit risk – within seconds.
But Ecobank’s new app doesn’t want to leapfrog the need for traditional bank accounts in Africa – it wants to make them relevant. The pan-African lender has managed to persuade regulators in 25 of the 33 African markets it holds a banking licence to allow citizens to quickly and easily open bank accounts via their mobile phones – without having to physically visit a bank branch, wait in long queues, or present any documents.
To do this, the bank uses the know-your-customer (KYC) information, which was provided by the user when they registered their SIM card. The KYC data is necessary in helping to prevent banking fraud, money laundering and criminal activity.