Recently I wrote an article on DrumNet, which is a mobile based information exchange for farmers in rural Kenya, who’s banking partner is Equity Bank. Yesterday at the Kenyan Investment Conference I was able to track down and spend some time with the president of Equity Bank, James Mwangi, and Allan Waitata, to discuss some of their background and their future as it relates to technology.
Interestingly enough, Equity Bank built itself up as the “common Kenyan’s” bank by going after the rural customer with only a small amount of income. They have built this business up over the years until it has displaced the other more established banks in Kenya – they now hold the largest market share of people at 1.2 million (33%). [You can read more about the history and mission of Equity Bank, read African Path’s interview with James Mwangi.]
So, here is a bank who is building into the long tail – that great theory that made Google the giant on the internet, which has fueled Wal-Mart’s growth, and that is making billions of dollars at Apple with iTunes. The basic tenant is that Equity Bank is reaching more people and making less margin per transaction, but because they’re making so many transactions they are very very successful.
As can be seen, there is a great deal of business to be had by reaching this under served demographic. However, to reach that demographic takes a good deal of work, a proper word-of-mouth marketing campaign, and a solid service offering worth talking about. Judging by the lines at the Equity Bank sign-up tables here in Atlanta, they’re doing all three things very well.