Diaspora remittances to Kenya stood at Ksh92 billion in the first half of 2017, a four per cent increase from the Ksh88.3 billion reported in June last year.
Monthly data released by the Central Bank shows a steady growth in the remittances, which are now the single largest foreign exchange source for Kenya.
A ministry of Foreign Affairs report showed that Kenya got Ksh1 from its citizens abroad for every Ksh3 it got from exporting goods and services last year, with diaspora remittances at Ksh170 billion and exports at Ksh578.1 billion. The billions coming from the over three million Kenyans residing abroad have led financial institutions, such as Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) to develop bespoke diaspora banking and investment solutions.
“KCB is investing in diaspora products because there is a need for Kenyans abroad to invest back home. Over the years we have seen the growth in real estate, especially the purchase of land and houses. The growth in demand has been steady over the years,” said Vincent Aberi, KCB’s Head of Diaspora Banking.
In August, the bank’s diaspora banking team kicked off an 18-stop visit to engage Kenyans living in the United Kingdom and Germany.
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“Germany and UK are important markets since we are focused in growing the European market and diversifying the business. We have also seen steady growth in remittances from this high-potential region,” explained Aberi. The bank has been holding investment forums and one-on-one engagements with Kenyans in the UK and Germany, informing them about investment opportunities in the country.
The Government, in collaboration with the International Organisation for Immigration (IOMs) Kenya Country Office and the ACP–EU Migration Action, this June launched an investment guide for Kenyans living abroad.
The guide, which provides information on how the Kenyan diaspora can send money safely and conveniently, underscores the importance of technology. Aberi agrees that technology is key in diaspora banking, adding that KCB has invested heavily in that sector.
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“We have invested a lot in terms of technology especially in our app that allows seamless payments. We have also a contact centre that is open 24 hours to handle customer queries. Our experienced Relationship Managers walk our customers through the investment options available in Kenya,” he said.
Using KCB’s Mobi Bank app, Kenyans living abroad can manage their accounts, send mobile money and complete inter-account transfers seamlessly. Swift transfers, bulk payments and mobile money and local bank transfer services are also available on KCB’s internet banking platform.
Stating that convenience and security were at the centre of KCB’s diaspora banking solutions, Aberi affirmed the bank’s commitment to offering innovative products for Kenyans living abroad.