NAIROBI (Reuters) – Kenya’s Equity Bank Group posted on Monday a 14 percent rise in pretax profit for the first nine months of the year to 18.14 billion shillings ($177.58 million), helped by higher interest income.
Equity, which focuses on the lower-income part of the Kenyan market and also operates in Uganda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo, said interest income rose 21 percent to 31.60 billion shillings, while customer deposits rose 30 percent to 317 billion shillings.
Equity group’s ratio of bad debts to total loans rose to 4.5 percent from 4.3 percent in the first nine months of 2014, James Mwangi, its chief executive officer told an investor briefing.
Its total loan portfolio rose by 27 percent to 263.4 billion shillings from 206.7 billion shillings, while total assets rose to 445.8 billion shillings from 339.44 billion shillings.
In May, Equity Bank – which wants to increase operations to 10 more African nations by 2024 – bought a 79 percent stake in ProCredit Bank Congo, the seventh biggest lender in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Equity Bank launched its own mobile phone service – known as Equitel – in July and has 1.3 million users.
Mobile banking is seen as the future of the sector, with more people accessing financial services on their phones and other portable devices, spurring lenders to partner with telecom firms to offer services.