Business Maverick

Business Maverick

Standard Chartered Pivots to Tap ‘Millions’ of Retail Clients in Kenya

A sign above the entrance to the headquarters of Standard Chartered Plc in London, U.K., on Monday, Feb. 14, 2022. European banks have largely thrived in the pandemic thanks to a flurry of dealmaking and unprecedented taxpayer support for the economy. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Standard Chartered Plc’s Kenyan unit said it plans to increase its focus on the East African nation’s retail market, a segment that’s being targeted by fintech startups and digital banks. 

The lender, which has been operating in the country since 1911, expects technology to help it expand its retail client base in the nation of 53 million people. Standard Chartered on Monday reported an annual profit of 9 billion shillings ($78.8 million), the highest in five years, while net interest income shrunk by 1.6%.

“Now we are able to grow at scale on the mass retail segment and really be able to reach not just thousands but millions of clients because of the enablement of technology,” Chief Executive Officer Kariuki Ngari said at an investor briefing on Monday, after posting a 68% jump in 2021 profit.

Traditional lenders are facing competition from startups and digital banks, which have taken off in the continent home to a young, tech-savvy population. From Andreessen Horowitz-backed Branch International to Cellulant Ltd., startups are attracting capital helping them scale up and threaten established banks.

Standard Chartered is focusing on capital-light products to boost profitability, according to Eric Musau, head of research at Nairobi-based Standard Investment Bank Ltd.

The bank’s investment in technology is allowing it to “move from affluent clients to probably a lot more mass-market product without a significant increase in cost,” Musau said.

Standard Chartered Bank Kenya Full-Year Earnings Jump 68%

StanChart is the second bank in Kenya to publish full-year earnings. Two weeks ago, Stanbic Holdings Plc posted a 39% rise in net income and declared a dividend higher than what it paid out before the Covid-19 outbreak.

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