In September 2014, Airtel’s first ever MVNO in partnership with Equity Bank, the leader in Mass and SMB Banking in Kenya went live on its Kenyan network. The MVNO allows the bank customers to access all their banking products and services – credit, savings, insurance, payments, transaction processing, brokerage, custodial and investment services – through the mobile device and channel while enjoying their GSM services on the same SIM card, simplifying the life of the consumer while creating a ‘cash lite’ economy. The MNVO, trading as “Equitel”, has in about 6 months of operations grown its MVNO customer base to over 600,000 subscribers, over 70% of these actively using both the mobile and financial services offered by the MVNO.
Airtel Africa CEO Mr. Christian De Faria commented, “This recognition is a pleasant surprise. The launch of MVNOs is in line with Airtel’s innovation and differentiation agenda. We strongly believe that the entry of the MVNO into the Kenyan market will stimulate and sustain overall market growth through a new range of innovative products and service propositions that will give more choice and value to consumers. Our MVNO with Equity Bank offers an ideal model of collaboration between banks and telecoms, allowing convergence of mobile and banking, with the customer in mind”.
The Equity Bank MVNO partnership is rolling out a new paper-thin SIM card that is affixed on the primary traditional SIM card, potentially converting each handset into a ‘dual’ SIM handset and eliminating the need to purchase a new handset. This ultimately lowers the barrier to entry for the budget constrained consumer and low-income segment while fulfilling their need for mobile and financial services.