Though the Bank continues to invest in rolling out brick and mortar branches that are complemented by various delivery channels, the challenge of access to formal financial services remains a big impediment to financial inclusion.
Kenyans (especially in remote areas) are forced to travel long distances and spend huge amounts on transport in order to access a branch. In addition to the cost of transport is the time spent commuting to and fro, that could have been spent more productively.
To curb these challenges, the Central Bank of Kenya released a legislation that allows commercial banks to contract third party retail networks as Agents. Upon successful application, vetting and approval, these Agents are authorized to offer selected products and services on behalf of the Bank. This relationship creates an Agency Banking business model.
An Equity Agent therefore is a commercial entity that has been contracted by Equity Bank and approved by the Central Bank of Kenya to provide specific services on behalf of the bank. This entity shall be equipped with the skills necessary to provide basic banking services according to standards set by the Bank.
This will provide the opportunity to access financial products and services at a location nearest to the customer, thus breaking down certain barriers to financial inclusion such as cost and accessibility.