NCBA Group, a financial services conglomerate controlled by Kenya’s wealthiest families, is preparing to launch operations in Ghana, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) through partnerships led by its mobile phone banking service, M-Shwari.
The move, which aligns with the group’s strategic expansion plans and diversification strategy through mobile and digital banking, comes just a week after NCBA CEO John Gachora announced that the lender plans to expand into eight African markets.
The group, which is one of the leading lenders in East Africa with operations in Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda, is negotiating mobile phone banking partnerships with banks and telecom operators in the three countries.
The move is consistent with Gachora’s earlier statement, in which the leading executive stated that the model in the new markets will be to collaborate with local banking and mobile partners to deliver products and services to customers while leveraging cutting-edge technology.
According to Gachora, funding the expansion will be less expensive than establishing a traditional bank. “There will be licensing costs because it’s digital, it’s a fintech, and licenses are relatively cheap,” he said. As a result, the Kenyan bank will earn commissions on deals involving the establishment of brick-and-mortar operations in Ghana, Ethiopia, and the DRC.
NCBA Group is a Nairobi-based financial services conglomerate that operates as a non-operating holding through its extensive network of subsidiaries in Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, and Cote d’Ivoire.
The Kenyan banking firm, established in 2019 by the merger of NIC Bank Group and Commercial Bank of Africa Group, now has 109 branches in five countries — Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Cote d’Ivoire — and is partially owned by the super-rich Kenyatta, Merali, and Ndegwa families.
The bank’s profit rose from Ksh6.52 billion ($53.3 million) to Ksh12.8 billion ($104.7 million) at the end of the first nine months of its 2022 fiscal year thanks to a double-digit increase in interest and non-interest income during the period under review.
NCBA has reaped enormous benefits from pioneering mobile phone-based lending in Kenya since partnering with telecom provider Safaricom in 2012 to launch the market-dominating service, M-Shwari.
It hopes to expand this model beyond East Africa, with large populations and a banking industry that primarily serves large corporations.