Mobile banking. Photo Credit: CityAM

The financial services sector in East Africa is one of the most susceptible to innovation, and as such financial services providers must focus on engaging with and supporting entrepreneurs, according to Eddie Ndichu of Chase Bank.

Speaking at the PIVOT East mobile startups pitching competition – of which Chase Bank was a sponsor – Ndichu said it is no coincidence that the bank chose to involve itself with an event supporting entrepreneurship in East Africa, as the financial services sectors in East Africa is a key space in which innovators are having an impact.

“It’s not a coincidence that a financial services provider is sponsoring such a relevant event. One of the industries in this part of the world the most susceptible to disruption is the financial services sector,” Ndichu said.

In particular, Ndichu pointed to mobile technology as a key driver of innovation in the financial services space.

“What mobile has been able to absolutely do in this part of the world is to help Kenyans understand what financial services are for,” he said.

Ndichu says many industry sectors are undergoing a difficult period of change, as technology becomes more widely adopted, and consumer demands evolve.

Considering Uber’s success with providing taxis, without actually owning any cars, Ndichu drew a parallel, saying banks are currently having to figure out how to provide banking services without the use of cash, or paper.

According to Ndichu, as a business oriented financial services provider, Chase Bank is busy aligning itself and its offerings with the needs of entrepreneurs.

“We’ve successfully been understanding what businesses need. Now our focus is entrepreneurs,” he said.

“The focus in the world today is entrepreneurs.  And the youth are today’s entrepreneurs. So we’re trying to understand what kind of financial services they need.”

Naming a specific goal, Ndichu said Chase Bank is hoping to become the first bank in Kenya to entirely stop the use of cheque books – a currently common service in the country.

Above all, Ndichu said it is time for financial services providers to get on board with using technology to improve their services, and make more effort to provide innovative banking services.

“The most banks have ever innovated is the ATM. Mobile banking only came in when telcos decided to allow people to move their money faster [than banks]. Had bankers realised they could have made money, they would have gotten onto it. But eight years later, banks are still just looking into it,” he said.

“The question is, how can we innovate to take banking online? How can we be mobile first?”