Branch International to launch a digital bank

Fintech company Branch International has outlined plans to roll out an African digital bank based in Nairobi, Kenya.

The company said Tuesday 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, the firm’s founder Mr Matt Flannery said the company will invest heavily in the strategic venture.

The firm has now settled on the acquisition of Century Microfinance Bank in its efforts to roll out 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,” Mr Flannery said.

Branch, which currently serves customers in Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria and India uses artificial intelligence applications to assess credit risk in markets with poor credit bureau infrastructure and continues to push technology to make financial services more efficient and scalable according to Mr Flannery.

The firm has attracted global investors ranging from Andreessen Horowitz (who backed Facebook, Twitter and other international platforms early on) to Visa and the World Bank Group’s IFC in its corporate mission to offer world-class financial services to the mobile generation.

Mr 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.

“The establishment of a true pan-African digital bank is long overdue, and at Branch International, we believe this will be a game-changer to deepen financial inclusivity while reaching the underserved markets,” Mr Flannery said.

“The acquisition of Century Microfinance Bank here in Kenya, is a bold statement for Branch and demonstrates our commitment towards building a Pan-African digital bank. The support provided by the Government of Kenya and the Central Bank of Kenya has given us the impetus to use this country as the launchpad for our continental expansion efforts.”

Last month, the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) announced the acquisition of a majority stake in Century Microfinance Bank Limited (Century MFB) by Branch International Limited (Branch) effective January 1, 2022. The acquisition follows CBK's regulatory approval earlier secured on December 30, 2021, under Section 19 (4) of the

Currently, Branch has managed to digitally disburse more than US$ 600million to a growing customer base of more than 4million customers.

“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,” said Century Microfinance Bank Chairman Peterson Mwangi.

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