If there is a market that Absa Group will be betting on to deliver its vision for African banking – it is Kenya.
Absa Group boss Mr. Daniel Mminele says that the Kenyan market has proved to be among the most important for the lender. Absa Group has a presence in 12 African countries, ten of which it is actively present.
In the presence of an enchanted crowd at the bank’s headquarters in Westlands, he, together with Absa Kenya MD Mr. Jeremy Awori unveiled the Absa logo, culminating a full transition from Barclays Kenya PLC to Absa Kenya PLC in true monumental fashion.
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While laying out a fresh vision for the bank, Mr. Awori said that the vast majority of Kenyans had a positive disposition towards the Absa brand. He said that the transition meant that the lender was now keen on becoming a holistic financial services company and will be focusing on two main goals.
The first goal is to expand its market share in services such as wealth management and to offer easy access to a broader array of alternative investment products rather than just stocks and government securities.
The new alternative investments will include the Absa gold exchange-traded funds (ETFs) which was one of the best performing securities, going up by over 21% last year.
The second goal is to make the existing business more efficient through a digitally lead strategy and an instinctive empathy towards Kenya’s Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
The history of Barclays bank can be traced back to 1916 when the lender opened its first branch in the coastal city of Mombasa. It has survived the challenges of the banking sector in Kenya at the same time revolutionizing banking as we know it.
The transition to Absa will, therefore, require managing cultural change whilst maintaining the secret sauce that has made it so successful throughout its 104-year-old history.
Absa Kenya is now part of a continental giant that is backed by an asset base of well above $90 Billion (Ksh 9 Trillion) – larger than Kenya’s entire GDP. And about 8 times the size of Kenya’s national budget.
But with Absa now being part of the country’s financial fabric, what does this mean for Kenya?
For starters, it means that Kenyan SMEs are set to reap big. Absa recently launched new SME propositions to include LPO financing, unsecured loans of up to Ksh 10 million and invoice discounting of up to Ksh 50 million.
The lender will also begin offering interest rates of 5% on savings made on its Timiza virtual banking platform. Aspiring homeowners in the country will also find a friend in Absa after the lender announced handsome mortgage propositions.
“We have redefined our mortgage offering to include 100% financing, offering the most competitive rate in the market at 11.75%,” said Absa Kenya boss Jeremy Awori during a ticker change from BBK to ABSA at the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE).
Investors who will buy Absa stock will also laugh all the way to the bank. Even before the transition to Absa, BBK stock had consistently shown ability to withstand violent volatility in the market, outperforming tier one banks and the aggregate NSE indexes giving investors a cool 14 percent return.
Digitally savvy Kenyans and Millennials will also enjoy convenient transactions and cashback rewards after Absa launched new vertical credit and debit cards that feature a tap and go technology two weeks ago. The first ones of their kind in the market.
“We are committed to digitization of our processes to making banking experiences smooth, we’ll soon be launching an Absa Chatbot a virtual assistant that allows customers to get answers to their frequently asked banking questions via WhatsApp,” Mr. Awori said.
He said that Absa was committed to building a rich heritage and a strong financial culture through a digitally lead strategy.
On his part, Capital Markets Authority (CMA) chairman Mr. James Ndegwa noted that the formal transition from Barclays Kenya (NSE: BBK) to Absa (NSE: ABSA) was a carefully managed process that ought to be a benchmark for other companies.