Commercial Banks In Kenya; A Complete Guide

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List of Commercial Banks of Kenya

This is a complete list of commercial banks in Kenya. However, before we look at the list, it important to understand how banks are classified.

The criteria of classifying banks is by ownership, nature, and the amount of assets that the banks hold.

To make you understand better, some banks belong to individuals or local companies. We have some banks that belong to international organizations or individuals. That is what I mean by ownership.

Now looking at the nature of the banks in Kenya, they can be either commercial or microfinance banks.

Commercial banks can then be classified into different tiers depending with the amount of assets each have. In Kenya, the Central Bank of Kenya classifies banks into three tiers, one, two and three.

Tier 1 are the heavyweights with billions of assets and are considered financially stable. These banks, the Central Bank of Kenya sees them as those that are unlikely to collapse.

Medium-sized banks are belong to tier 2 and have much less assets compared to those in tier 1. Then comes small banks that are the constituents of tier 3.

The number of banks in Kenya continues to grow. As of 2019, the CBK listed the number of commercial banks in Kenya at 45.

In this article, I am going to list all the commercial banks in Kenya as of April 2020, though as we all know, some of them such as Imperial Bank, Chase Bank, and Dubai Bank have gone under.

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List of Commercial Banks in Kenya by Tier.

This is the ranking as I said earlier of Commercial banks in Kenya by the Central Bank of Kenya by the asset base.

Here below is the complete list.

 Tier 1

  • Equity Bank- Founded 1984
  • Barclays Bank- Founded 1916
  • Kenya Commercial Bank- Founded 1896
  • Standard Charted Bank- Founded 1911
  • Co-operative Bank of Kenya- Founded 1872
  • Commercial Bank of Africa- Founded 1962.

As you can see from the list, the latest entrant Equity Bank has over the years been able to muscle it way up into the first tier.

Tier 2

  • NIC- Founded 1959
  • Housing Finance Bank- Founded 2010
  • National Bank of Kenya- Founded 1968
  • Bank of Baroda- Founded 1953
  • Bank of India – Founded 1953
  • Bank of Africa Kenya – Founded 2004
  • Eco Bank- Founded 2005
  • Family Bank of Kenya- Founded 1984
  • CFC Stanbic Bank- Founded in 2007

In this tier you will find most of the common banks that all of us know are not ‘big’ but whose risk of collapse is not that big.

 Tier 3

  • Jamii Bora Bank- Founded 1999
  • Paramount Universal Bank- Founded 1993
  • African Banking Corporation- founded 1984
  • Consolidated Bank- Founded 1989
  • Credit Bank- Founded 1986
  • Fidelity Bank- Founded 1988
  • Guardian Bank- Founded 1992
  • Citibank N.A Kenya- Founded 1974
  • Development Bank –Founded 1963
  • Oriental Commercial Bank- Founded 2002
  • Gulf Africa Bank- Founded 2006
  • First Community Bank- Founded 2007
  • Equatorial Bank – Founded 1983
  • Giro Commercial Bank- Founded 1993
  • Transnational Bank- Founded 1984
  • United Bank of Africa- Founded 2009
  • Habib Bank LTD- Founded 1946
  • Middle East Bank Of Kenya- 1981
  • Victorian Commercial Bank- Founded 1987
  • Habib Bank AG Zurich- Founded 1978

This tier has names most of us have never heard of. Moreover, some of these banks have very few branches mainly in big cities.

You will also notice that institutions such as the Housing finance are classified as a commercial bank. However, we all know that it is a mortgage finance institution.

While individuals or private companies own some of these banks, the government of Kenya has shares in banks such as;

  • Kenya Commercial Bank.
  • Housing Finance.
  • National Bank of Kenya.
  • CFC Stanbic,
  • Consolidated Bank.
  • Development Bank.

In the recent past, the baking sector has been stable over the years, in recent times we have seen banks such as Imperial Bank, Chase Bank, and Dubai Bank going being place on receivership.

You will notice that it is the big boys of the banking sector that will in most cases survive the financial turmoil that is thrown their way.

List of the Largest Commercial Banks in Kenya by Asset Base

These are the largest banks in Kenya, whose combine asset base goes beyond the borders.

  • Kenya Commercial Bank Group.
  • Co-operative Bank.
  •  Equity Group.
  • Diamond Trust Bank.
  • Standard Chartered Bank.
  •  I&M Holdings
  •  Barclays Bank.
  • Stanbic Holdings
  • NIC Bank
  • Housing Finance

Note that the order above shows that KCB as the best bank while Housing Finance Comes in a position ten.  

So what makes these banks tick? Let us have a look.

KCB Group

KCB Bank Group is the largest bank in Kenya, at least by the asset base. The bank has been pushing innovative services to its customers including the famous KCB Mpesa in conjunction with Safaricom. This has increased the deposits made, coupled with the ease with which its customer base can access financial services.

This is a bank that is going nowhere and the years it has been in operation speaks for itself.

Equity Bank Group

Equity bank is the largest bank in Kenya by the number of customers in its books; the bank embraced everybody including people in the informal services to grow. Just having begun in 1984, it boosts being in the first tier, a place where its peers can only dream of.

Moreover, its digitization strategy and innovative services such as Equitel and the Eazzy Banking application, continue to grow its revenue.

Co-operative Bank of Kenya

One of the largest commercial banks in Kenya that has a backing of thousands of large Sacco base in Kenya. The fact that all Saccos bank with this bank makes it a formidable force.

Standard Chartered

This is a favorite with the corporate clientele, who view it as a solid bank. With Headquarters in London and presence in so many nations, it attracts large companies and large businesses.

Barclays Bank

Barclays Bank is a household name world over. Its mother company, Barclays Plc has been financing the bank in Kenya, hence there is cheap borrowing resulting in the growth of the bank.

DTB Bank

DTB Bank has arguably the best asset quality-banking sector in Kenya. The bank from the latest ranking has continued to produce growth in a sector others are struggling.

List of Micro Finance banks in Kenya

So what exactly are microfinance banks?

According to Investopedia, microfinance banks otherwise called microcredits are a type of banking service that provides unemployed or low-income groups or individuals with financial services.

In Kenya, these are some of the microfinance institutions.  

  • Faulu Microfinance Bank Limited.
  • Kenya Women Microfinance Bank Limited
  • SMEP Microfinance Bank Limited.
  • Microfinance Bank Limited.
  • Daraja Microfinance Bank Limited.
  • Choice Microfinance Bank Limited.
  • Microfinance Bank Limited.
  • Sumac Microfinance Bank Limited.
  • U & I Microfinance Bank Limited.

Some of these microfinance institutions are well-known such as Faulu Microfinance Bank Limited or in short Faulu. Another well-known is the KWFT or Kenya Women Microfinance Bank Limited.

One of the characteristics of these banks is that they have very little asset base and serve a particular niche of clients.

Wrapping It Up

Commercial Banks in Kenya serve an important role in the economy one, which no one can take. Even with the interest cap on loans, these banks have continued to soldier on. Every year they make millions in profits and make their shareholders smile all the way to the bank.

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