Financial inclusion holds the promise of harnessing collaboration between financial sector players, including financial service providers and technology service providers, to achieve social ends such as inclusive economic growth, sustainable development, and poverty alleviation.
Kenya remains as a front-runner in financial inclusion through the many digital innovations that keep being invented as days go by.
According to the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), there are a total of five mobile telephone service providers with mobile penetration standing at 90 percent as at December 2016, up from 84 percent the previous year. This is not only closer to the global penetration rate, of 98.6 per but is also significantly higher than the average continental penetration rate of Africa of 76.2 per.
The growth of the financial sector in Kenya has also led to the growth of agency banking, which has positively been taken up by almost all Banks. This is one area that banks are using to render services to their customers in the easiest, reliable and convenient way.
Agent banking is the delivery of banking services by third-party agencies to customers on behalf of a licensed, prudentially regulated financial institution, such as a building society, commercial bank or any other deposit-taking microfinance institution.
One financial institution that has succeeded in the uptake of agency banking is the Co-operative Bank of Kenya (Co-op Bank), through their Co-op Kwa Jirani product.
Co-op Kwa Jirani has proved to be a convenient and simple banking model that suits an individual’s lifestyle as well as offering convenience as far accessing banking services is concerned.
As of 2017, the bank had over 8,000 Co-op Kwa Jirani agents all across the country, used to offer all the services being offered at the bank. This, in its own way, has been the best way of allowing financial inclusion to customers who can now be able to operate with ease without necessarily having to visit their branches.
Co-op Bank has ensured that there are as many Kwa Jirani agents as possible nearly in every shopping Centre in the country. It has enabled customers to access the basic banking services, within the comfort of their neighborhood.
The convenience of access to banking services and the extended hours that the agencies work is what makes the platform continue growing. As we go forward, the bank is working on ensuring that there is more convenience to customer delivery.