Branch Microfinance will operate as a branchless lender even after its transition to a micro-bank following the acquisition of Century Microfinance Bank last year.
The micro-financier, which closed one of three Century outlets in the aftermath of the acquisition says it will close a second banking hall next month to remain with a single branch which will also serve as its headquarters.
“As a neobank, we don’t need a physical presence, however, the law says we must have at least one branch. We have had over four and a half million users with very few branches. It makes no sense to tell our customers where our branches are as it will never satisfy their needs,” Branch International Managing Director for East Africa Rose Muturi told the Business Daily in an interview.
After the acquisition was announced by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) on February 8 last year, the regulator revealed that the microfinance bank had two branches in Nairobi, with one serving as its headquarters on Moi Avenue and a second in Gikomba.
Despite buying into a brick-and-mortar outfit, Branch which says it has since migrated Century customers to Branch’s digital platform with the approval of CBK does not share the clout of a physical network, unlike its traditional competitors who have sustained the growth of banking halls against the sweeping digital wave.
According to Branch, the scale for the full-fledged digital bank implies enabling customers access to as many services and interactions via digital platforms.
Following the acquisition of a deposit-taking institution/license, Branch has for instance rolled out services beyond just digital credit provision in the digital space, including; savings products, bill payments and peer-to-peer funds transfers.
“This has enabled us to have almost a 360-degree view of our customers unlike before when we were just a digital credit provider disbursing loans to customers’ mobile wallets,” added Ms Muturi.