StanChart eyes slice of Kenya’s e-commerce

Standard Chartered Plc is eyeing a cut of Kenya’s e-commerce business through Solv, an India-based technology firm.The bank’s local subsidiary, Standard Chartered Bank Kenya, will be the financial partner of the platform.Solv’s entry into the Kenyan signals a rising interest in the country’s fintech sector where digitisation of supply chains for small and medium-sized firms is on an upward trajectory.The platform gives small businesses an online marketplace, credit, and support services. Solv has signed up 1,000 sellers and 30,000 buyers in India.

The platform offers an online business-to-business marketplace where sellers are able to reach new and verified customers. Buyers can source quality products at competitive prices from verified and pre-screened suppliers. Through Solv, businesses can access loans and invoice-based financing for orders placed on the platform. Other services include logistics and insurance. Standard Chartered invested in Solv through SC Ventures –its innovation, venture capital, and financial technology arm. Its local banking subsidiary Standard Chartered Bank Kenya, in which it holds a majority 73.89 percent stake, is expected to be the provider of the loans to be issued on Solv.

It will mark StanChart’s growth and diversification outside the mainstay corporate banking. The bank has been expanding its financial services, most of them automated, in tandem with its digitisation strategy.

The bank last year announced plans to enter the mobile lending business which has emerged as a popular means of serving retail clients.It recently entered the money market fund business in partnership with Sanlam Investments East Africa and global digital wealth technology provider Bambu, allowing customers to make investments of as low as Sh1,000.

This adds to its wealth management business through which customers can buy and sell Kenya government debt securities on its digital platform SC Mobile app.

StanChart reported a 46.6 percent net profit growth in the nine months ended September on the back of lower costs and higher non-interest income. Its net earnings in the review period stood at Sh6.3 billion, up from Sh4.3 billion a year earlier. The performance saw the bank declare a surprise interim dividend of Sh5 per share.

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