Kenya Commercial Bank Expands In South Sudan And Launches First Credit Card

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Written by Ann Brown

From Reuters

Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) , the biggest bank in South Sudan, plans to grow by launching the first credit card service in the young African country and adding more branches, executives told Reuters.

KCB has won a licence from VISA Inc to launch credit cards in South Sudan, a war-torn country where few people have a bank account, the executives said.

KCB was one of the first foreign banks to set up shop in Juba after the end of civil war between south and north Sudan in 2005, which led six years later to the secession of South Sudan.

South Sudan has a large business potential with a population of nearly 12 million but has struggled to build up state institutions and an efficient legal system.

That has not deterred foreign banks from arriving. Apart from KCB, Qatar National Bank, Kenya’s Co-Operative Bank and a bank funded by Dubai Islamic Bank are also active in South Sudan.

KCB now has a market share of 42 percent serving 138,000 customers, Rebecca Likami, deputy managing director of KCB in South Sudan, said in an interview.

“We have started VISA,” Likami said. “Some KCB outlets accept VISA. By the end of this year we should (have) VISA in all the hotels.”

She added customers should be able to use VISA cards at automated teller machines (ATMs) from next year.

The bank also plans to add more branches beyond the existing 20, said Harun Kibogong, KCB’s managing director, without being more specific.

The bank has started offering mortgages as well, another novelty in one of the world’s least developed countries.

“We have mortgages because there is a lot of construction taking place across the country. Housing is lacking in Juba,” said Likami.

“We have developers financing, then we have the normal mortgage for people who want to buy the house,” she said.

KCB was recently hit by a strike of some of its 380 staff over salaries but Likami said the issue was being worked out.

Read more at Reuters.