8th November, 2012 Nairobi… Equity Bank Group has today launched a partnership with China Union Pay, which will allow UnionPay card holders to make transactions from Equity Bank’s ATMs and Points of Sale Terminals across the East Africa region. Equity Bank now becomes China UnionPay’s principal agent in East Africa.

Hosting the launch ceremony at the Equity Bank headquarters in Nairobi, Equity Bank Group CEO, Dr James Mwangi said, “We are pleased to enter into this agreement with China UnionPay, which will further strengthen our relationship and give us an opportunity to serve UnionPay card holders on business or travel in East Africa. With Equity Bank’s footprint across East Africa which includes 203 branches, over 600 ATMs and over 4,500 Points of Sale, UnionPay Card holders will enjoy convenience, ease of access and a happy experience when transacting far away from home.”

Dr Mwangi further said, “The cooperation between China UnionPay and Equity Bank is based on the common goal which is providing high quality financial services to our customers. China UnionPay will utilize Equity Bank’s market advantage within East Africa to meet the demands of its growing customer base in the region.”

The Vice President of China Union Pay Mr  Chai Hongfeng said, “Africa is an emerging market for payment, full of growth potential. It also plays a leading role in mobile payment space. As a young card organization, Africa is very important to UnionPay.” And added, “Equity Bank is one of the most important banks in Kenya and own a large branch and acquiring network in Eastern Africa region. UnionPay is very pleased to form the partnership with Equity Bank, and co-operate in Kenya and Eastern Africa”.

China Union Pay has developed an international acceptance network in order to meet the growing card usage for its consumers. With the Chinese population growing steadily in East Africa and an estimated 20,000 Chinese tourists visiting Kenya every year, the partnership with Equity Bank opens doors for 3.2 billion China UnionPay card holders globally; further boosting Kenya’s bilateral relationship with China.
Equity Bank’s investment in a robust IT platform continues to pay divindes as the Bank ventures into strategic partnerships with a view to becoming a one stop shop for financial services in the region.  The Bank runs on a Global Robust State of the Art Information Technology Computer System supported by Infosys, HP, Oracle and Microsoft.  The multi-currency, multi-company, multi- country system has a capacity of 35 million accounts and a processing speed of 300,000 transactions per minute.  This system is supported by Way4, an online Card Management System which has multi-institution and multi-currency transaction processing capability and has the ability to handle over 60 million cards with speed performance of 180,000 transactions per minute.

The Bank operates on the EMV (Europay-Mastercard-VISA) technology in its Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) outlets and point of sales (POS) as well as at Equity agency locations. The Robust System is backed by a comprehensive Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery System.

 “We shall continue to strengthen our business model through innovation, enhanced use of technology and automation for a better customer experience,” said Dr. Mwangi.

The Union Pay partnership will further enhance Equity Bank’s strategic relationship with the Chinese financial sector. In 2010, Equity Bank signed up a Ksh 4 Billion credit line from China Development Bank (CDB) to support Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Kenya becoming the first beneficiary of the USD 5 billion fund by the China Development Bank for the development of SMEs in Africa.

In August 2012, CDB extended an additional USD 80 million credit line to support SMEs in Kenya. The additional funding has enabled Equity Bank build its capacity to further offer advisory services to help SMEs grow, expand and realize their potential.