Nairobi-Headquartered I&M Bank Will Launch WhatsApp Banking in Kenya


Kenyan I&M Bank has announced plans to launch WhatsApp banking in Kenya. I&M bank will be the second lender after Absa Bank to introduce WhatsApp banking as the sector moves away from brick and mortar.

The AI-powered innovation will allow customers to carry out mobile money transactions, inter-account transfers of money, bill payments, and balance inquiries, among other key transactions via WhatsApp. In an exclusive interview with the Star, I&M Bank head of digital Michael Mwangi said they are planning to launch the product within this financial year. The bank has already rolled out WhatsApp banking in its Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, and Mauritian subsidiaries. It’s a work in progress, while we are a group and have a common strategy, we want to think global but act locally. “This product is in the kitchen, we are taking lessons from our regional subsidiaries. We will launch in Kenya in a few months,” said Mwangi. He added that they want to infuse the Swahili version in WhatsApp banking to appeal to most of their customers.

In Kenya, most banks have moved at least 80 percent of their transactions to digital platforms bringing convenience to customers. As Internet and smartphone penetration improves in Africa, WhatsApp banking is gaining traction in countries like Kenya and Nigeria.  According to the Global Web Index’s 2020 Social Media User Trends Report, Kenya has the highest percentage of monthly WhatsApp users compared to the rest of the world, with about 97 percent of all internet users in the country active on WhatsApp. Absa Bank was the first to launch WhatsApp Bank in the country last August.

Some of the biggest banks including Access Bank, United Bank for Africa, Guarantee Trust, and First Bank of Nigeria have adopted it. Available data suggest that it could be a massive success in Kenya. Since going digital I&M has seen a 300 percent growth in customer uptake and their number of transactions has also increased by 150 percent compared to last year.

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Written by Mercy ANURIKA

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