Ukheshe Partners with Diamond Trust Bank to Deliver BaaS in East Africa

Banking as a Service (BaaS) and embedded finance enabler Ukheshe has partnered with Diamond Trust Bank (DTB) to provide an innovative BaaS platform in East Africa.

BaaS, the provision of banking products and services through third-party distributors, is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of a whopping 25% in some markets, and this new partnership will see both parties get ahead of this rapid growth curve.

Mark Dankworth, President of Business Development at Ukheshe Africa, says Ukheshe is thrilled to partner with DTB as a progressive bank that shares Ukheshe’s vision for BaaS. “Ukheshe had been looking for a banking partner in the region, and when we met with DTB to explore these opportunities, several synergies immediately came to light. When I first met Jamie, the COO of DTB, he said, “We are striving to be a technology company with a banking licence”. I knew then that we had the technology and DTB had the licence. We’re extremely excited to enable DTB to launch some innovative endeavours within the East African market.”

This market, where the digital payment landscape is currently dominated by mobile network operators (MNOs), presents many regulatory challenges to new players – though banks are well-supported by regulators. BaaS partnerships such as these are the ideal solution for both parties, enabling banks and fintechs to take on the dominant MNOs while meeting all regulatory requirements, explains Dankworth.

Jamie Loden, Chief Operating Officer at DTB adds that the market is also ready for new offers. “Consumers are becoming more aware of the options in the market and are starting to favour convenience over cost. This creates new opportunities for agile BaaS models.”

Ukheshe has leveraged the sought-after Eclipse platform to develop Wallets as a Service as part of the Astra platform, which was launched by DTB in Kenya; with Uganda and Tanzania to follow in 2024. This will enable fintechs, edtechs and other technology-enabled entities in these regions to work freely with a sponsoring bank, facilitate regulatory approval, and have access to multiple payment products through an API orchestration layer. These products include wallets and a wallet management system, QR payments, payment services, SME solutions, SoftPOS, digital KYC, Virtual and Physical Cards, among other curated digital financial services.

Says Loden: “The partnership is a collaborative way for both DTB and Ukheshe to achieve our organisational strategic goals from a customer acquisition, value packaging, support, and management perspective. DTB will leverage Ukheshe’s technology to drive innovation, improve financial services distribution, and offer services to its customers, while Ukheshe will leverage the bank’s position to be able to operate within the market.”

This fits perfectly into Ukheshe’s vision for its future, says Dankworth. “The partnership will help Ukheshe meet regulatory requirements to expand to new markets, especially in East Africa, while enabling the bank to rapidly grow its customer base and onboard fintech partners on the Astra platform. “The partnership will also form the blueprint for Ukheshe’s future market penetration plans: To better navigate regulatory challenges, go to market quickly, and have an in-country presence.”

And, in the bigger scheme, the partnership will drive innovation and growth, he adds. “This will create fertile ground for fintechs to onboard, develop, and grow world-class and innovative solutions, as well as overcome regulatory red tape. Driving digital banking services in such a way helps replace physical cash use, improving financial inclusion for end users and the market at large.”

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