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A UK online foreign exchange and payments platform, Kwanji.com, has announced a partnership with Equity Bank to allow Kenyans make payments outside the country over the web and through their smartphones.
Kwanji is working in partnership with leading UK foreign currency specialists including VFX to offer the service.
The UK company is regulated by the Financial Services Authority as an Authorised Payment Institution and is licensed to operate across Europe and East Africa under the regulation of Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) and Capital Markets Authority (CMA) in Kenya.
The service is focused mainly on small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).
The Kwanji platform comes just days after I&M Bank announced it had lifted a suspension of its online payments service.
The Kenyan bank had blocked customers’ credit and debit cards advising them to call the lender whenever they needed to make online transactions.
The bank, however, lifted the suspension, but said it was tightening its controls to offer customers more protection from fraudsters.
The increase in fraud cases was noted after the switch to use of chip-and-PIN plastic cards, which made it harder for fraudsters to steal money from ATM machines.
Kwanji is targeting Kenya’s manufacturing, agriculture, infrastructure and alternative financial services sectors.
The cost of sending money globally to Kenya ranges from between 0.2-2 per cent, depending on the currency and amount sent.
Kwanji said it is, however, strategically more focused on payments out of Kenya, which will come at a similar cost.
“We believe that every company should be able to access global markets and as such, send funds and transact globally without being overcharged,” said Amit Khosla, Kwanji’s Principal Business Consultant, for East & Central Africa on Monday in a statement.
An SME can open an account online and get foreign exchange quotes from the company.
When they are ready to transact, the UK firm takes them through a one-time activation process, Kwanji forex exchange partners carry out Know Your Customer (KYC) checks and within about a day they are set up to trade.
The registration information required includes documents such as a list of directors, majority shareholders and previous types of payments. The SME can then both get quotes and go ahead and book payments through the website.
He added that the platform helps businesses protect and better expand their bottom line by minimising forex costs on cross-border payments, internal treasury and overall forex exchange management.
The firm is banking on the increased Internet use in the country with the latest Communications Authority of Kenya Statistics report (April – June 2105) stating that 73 per cent of Kenya is now online with an estimated 29.6 million Internet users.