Monday, May 25, 2009

New law to make banking easier

Deputy prime minister and minister for finance Uhuru Kenyatta PHOTO/ PHOEBE OKALL

Deputy prime minister and minister for finance Uhuru Kenyatta .PHOTO/ PHOEBE OKALL  

By PETER LEFTIE

Savings and credit cooperative society members will soon be able to access their money through commercial banks even if they do not have bank accounts.

This will, however, be possible if Parliament passes changes to the Banking Act.

Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta said the government had proposed amendments to the Act to enable commercial banks to use non-banking agents such as saccos and other micro-finance institutions to offer their services to Kenyans who do not have bank accounts.

He said that if passed, the proposed amendments will ensure that millions of Kenyans who cannot afford bank accounts would still be able to receive financial services.

Mr Kenyatta said the passing of the amendments would enable commercial banks to extend their services to millions of Kenyans who do not operate banking services.

These, he said, are especially people residing in marginalised areas and the poor who do not have the minimum requirements to operate accounts.

Mobile phones

He spoke on Monday while opening a Mobile Banking conference at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies in Nairobi.

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) governor, Prof Njuguna Ndung’u, asked saccos and other micro-finance institutions engaged by the commercial banks to consider using the mobile banking innovation to provide services at a cheaper rate.

“Such agents could leverage on mobile banking technologies to cost-effectively provide services on behalf of the banks,” Prof Ndung’u said.

The two-day conference, which brings together bankers, regulators, players in the telecommunication industry, mobile phone service providers and policy makers is aimed at ensuring that banking and communications regulations do not stifle innovation.

Addressing the conference theme, Equity Bank CEO James Mwangi urged CBK to ensure more Kenyans access services.

“In Kenya, there is a maxim that if it is not expressly allowed in law, do not do it. Can we have a second maxim that if it is not expressly prohibited in law, we can do it?

“Let the CBK do the catch up because we cannot anticipate innovation,” Mr Mwangi told the CBK governor.

Prof Ndung’u called for the formulation of laws that create room for exemptions in order to encourage innovation.

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