Speaking when he confirmed the association with Entersekt, Equity Group Holdings managing director, Dr James Mwangi, described the partnership as a strategic effort to guarantee the integrity of its digital financial services platforms. “At Equity, we are riding the wave of digital convenience and our association with Entersekt will afford us a rare opportunity to deliver banking services on multiple digital platforms,” Mwangi said, adding, “The provision of digital banking solutions, is part of Equity’s commitment to deepen financial inclusion in Africa.”
Mobile technology is crucial to the provision of accessible banking and payments services in sub-Saharan Africa, overcoming as it does challenges presented by inadequate infrastructure, limited travel options, and the relative expense of and distrust in traditional banking channels. “Mobile penetration rates in sub-Saharan Africa average about 70 percent and are climbing fast,” Gerhard Oosthuizen, Entersekt’s chief information officer. “Those African banks that succeed in creating innovative mobile experiences will grab the lion’s share of an underserved market.”
“By leveraging the enormous popularity of mobile devices, their support of digital certificates and encryption, as well as their user-friendly interfaces, Entersekt’s solutions enable banks to offer innovative banking capabilities without exposing their customers to fraud,” Oosthuizen continued. “Creating trusted relationships using mobile in a user-friendly way is the key to unlocking the full potential of this powerful channel.”
Equity will integrate Entersekt’s Transakt software development kit into its mobile applications to enable out-of-band, multi-factor authentication of online banking, mobile banking, mobile money transfer, e-commerce, call center, in-branch interactions, and more. Using digital certificates and proprietary validation techniques, Transakt converts the mobile phone into a trusted second factor of authentication and introduces an isolated communication channel between the device and financial institution that avoids reliance on the open Internet for user and transaction verification. The process is largely seamless to the banking customer. It avoids one-time passwords or challenge questions, requiring just one tap on a pop-up authentication request. Little to no user education is required.
Many mobile phones in Africa cannot run applications, so Equity has also opted for Entersekt’s push-USSD–based authentication product, Interakt, which provides the same peace of mind as Transakt does to owners of virtually any GSM-capable mobile device.
Ronald Webb, director of payments at Equity Bank, said, “The deployment of Entersekt extends Equity’s robust mobile strategy and, along with our Equitel MVNO initiative, will provide our customers with Africa’s most secure payments products and services. We are committed to extending financial inclusion and providing affordable, relevant, and secure services.”
Schalk Nolte, Entersekt’s chief executive officer, was buoyant. “We are delighted to have been chosen by Equity Bank. They, like other banks in Africa, have astonished me with their ambition to reimagine banking for a new digital era,” he said. “Is there anywhere in the world that’s exploring the opportunities that mobile technology opens up as fervently and creatively as this continent is? As a South Africa-founded mobile technology company, Entersekt is proud to be a part of this fast-developing story.”