Digital lender Branch International has outlined plans to roll out a Pan-African digital bank with Kenya as the launch pad.
The digital lender said it will spearhead the rollout of digital banking services across key markets in Africa once the local operation crystallizes before the end of the year.
Speaking in Nairobi at the formal signing ceremony for the acquisition of Century Microfinance Bank, Silicon Valley-based Branch International Founder Matt Flannery said the firm would be investing heavily in the strategic venture.
The firm, he said, had settled on the acquisition of Century Microfinance Bank to jumpstart the rollout of a digital bank in Kenya. “Branch International engaged a number of potential investment partners locally but settled on Century Microfinance which ticked many of the boxes and remains a right fit partner for the journey ahead,” Flannery said.
Flanked by Century Microfinance Bank Chairperson Peterson Mwangi and Branch East Africa Managing Director Rose Muturi, Flannery confirmed that the firm had activated its continental rollout plans with Kenya providing a good learning experience.
With the recent acquisition, Branch Kenya, he reiterated, will soon be making a landmark transition as the first digital lender to expand into the microfinance banking market, allowing for deposit-taking financial services and enhanced lending for individuals and SME clients. Plans for the corporate rebranding of Century Microfinance to the Branch corporate livery, he disclosed are also underway.
On his part, Century Microfinance Bank Chairman, Peterson Mwangi, while welcoming Branch International on its corporate roll, confirmed that the Microfinance Bank had made strategic steps to support its evolution into a fully-fledged digital bank.
“In Branch International, we have found a suitable corporate partner who shares our commitment to being the first end-to-end digital microfinance bank for the benefit of our existing and potential clients,” Mwangi said. He added, “In the last few years, we have worked hard to prepare Century Microfinance Bank for such a technological leap through heavy investments in Information Technology systems, including a core banking and customer relationship management system. These systems will come in very handy in the journey we are now set to undertake with Branch International.”
The company says it has so far managed to digitally disburse more than $600million to a growing customer base of more than 4million customers.