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Kenyan Lender NCBA Plans African Expansion With Digital Banking

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  • NCBA targets to begin lending in Ghana in first half of 2023
  • Bank’s nine-months net income climbs as forex earnings jump

By Bella Genga

NCBA Group Plc plans to expand into eight African markets using mobile and digital banking, a model that’s disrupting traditional financial systems.

The Kenyan lender, which introduced a mobile-phone based savings and credit product dubbed Mshwari a decade ago, has joined up with a financial institution in Ghana where it’s awaiting a license to begin lending, Chief Executive Officer John Gachora said in an interview without giving further details.

“We’re developing the technology that should be ready fairly soon, and the idea is to roll-out mid next year with our partners in Ghana,” Gachora said.

Ethiopia is also among the markets it wants to enter, as Africa’s second most populous nation opens up its financial industry to foreign investors. The Democratic Republic of Congo is on NCBA’s list too, with assessments showing the mineral-rich nation is “ripe for digital solutions,” according to Gachora.

Funding the expansion won’t be as costly as starting a traditional bank, according to Gachora. “It’s going to be licensing costs because it’s digital, it’s a fintech and the licenses are fairly cheap.”

NCBA’s nine-month profit climbed to 12.8 billion shillings ($105 million), buoyed by a 162.9% jump in foreign-exchange income, according to Nairobi-based Standard Investment Bank.

 

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