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Patrick Mweheire
Financial services 6 September 2022

Breaking Banking Borders in East Africa

Stanbic’s East Africa Borderless Banking solution delivers affordable, real-time transactions from anywhere within key East African markets

The phenomenal growth of Stanbic Bank’s East Africa Borderless Banking platform has revealed a pent-up demand for secure, real-time transactions across international borders.

Spanning a single network that includes Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and South Sudan, the Borderless Banking solution has grown exponentially between January 2021 to March 2022, at a rate of USD 40 million of transactional volume from virtually zero in January 2021. From February to March 2022 alone, the volume of successful transactions grew 24%, with a total value USD 3.5 million in transactions processed in March.

“Clients in the region have long been struggling to access cross-border transactions platforms that offer consistent, speedy and affordable service,” says Patrick Mweheire, Standard Bank Group’s Regional Chief Executive for East Africa. “This system has been developed cost-effectively, demonstrating how and when we collaborate, we can achieve great things that drive East African growth and intra-regional trade.”

Launched in 2021 Borderless Banking allows clients to access their accounts and transact in real time at any Stanbic Bank branch across the bank’s East Africa footprint.

In a single platform, customers have a holistic view of all bank solutions across the region, making it easier to transact, conduct business and get instant access to funds in any account they hold with Stanbic across Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and South Sudan.

According to the Mastercard 2022 Borderless Payments Report, 47% of small businesses are doing more international business than they were before the Covid-19 pandemic. Around 68% of small businesses agree that the functioning of the global payment network enabled them to survive.

Another important driver of growth, the report said, is that 63% of consumers send cross-border payments to financially support family and friends abroad. Therefore, it was important for Stanbic to keep costs at a fair level. For instance, cash deposits are free and cash withdrawals are set at between USD2 - USD3 across the network.

Cash deposits, cash withdrawals, charges and even customer authentication are all done in real-time, facilitated on a growing and highly secure system. This enables much reduced turnaround times, data mining, tracking of funds and growth of businesses now better able to seek and access trade across borders.

Over the past year, 80% of the transactions made have been cash deposits, while the remaining 20% has been cash withdrawals. Top sectors set to benefit from the platform include oil and gas, energy, non-governmental organisations, industrial and manufacturing, agriculture and even governments.

“We are seeing continuous positive and tangible development of the solution,” says Mweheire. “As part of Standard Bank’s journey to being a true platform business, we believe this creates an integrated economy for us, and we continue to drive our own payment strategy and agenda.

“Our truck drivers used to worry about carrying large volumes of cash across the borders, something they don’t have to think about anymore. They can access any of the various Stanbic branches across the region, which has allowed us to be more efficient and improve the safety of our drivers,” he adds.