Kenya corporate bank accounts in 2021

National Bank KenyaSince 2003, Healy Consultants Group PLC helps multi-national Clients open multi-currency corporate bank accounts in Kenya for both local and overseas companies.

Without bank signatory travel, our Dubai-based team will project manage the multi-currency corporate bank account opening process, including preparing a quality business plan for our Client’s business.

We recommend our multi-national Clients read this web page to avoid bank surprises later!

  • Kenya banking problems and solutions

    NoKenya banking problemSolution
    1.

    Bank refuses to onboard a foreign company which does not have a physical office in Kenya, or Kenyan customers or suppliers.

    Bank insists that the bank signatory travel to Kenya for a one-hour bank interview.

    Healy Consultants Group PLC will open an international corporate bank account with a top tier bank outside Kenya (e g New York, Germany, Liechtenstein, Austria, Bulgaria, South Africa, Australia, London, South America or Dubai).

    Healy Consultants Group PLC has a guaranteed corporate bank account approval policy.

    Healy Consultants Group PLC Client travel policy will apply (click link). Our staff will organise the bank meeting in our Kenyan affiliates’ office and assist our Client during the bank interview(s).

    2.

    Global banks continue to tighten corporate bank account opening procedures, their internal compliance departments completing more thorough due diligence of Clients. Consequently, our Clients should expect Kenya bank account approval to take up to two months.

    Like most international banks, it is common for Kenyan banks to close corporate bank accounts without giving an open, transparent reason to their customers. To close a customer bank account without giving the bank signatory an opportunity to explain ‘unusual transactions activity in the corporate bank account’ is an unfair, unreasonable action which places our multi-national Clients’ businesses under stress.

    As we advance deeper into a global depression, it will become more common for banks to experience financial difficulties. Consequently, multi-national Clients should expect i) small banks to go bankrupt and ii) small to medium-sized banks to be bought over by top tier banks. The number of banks operating in each country will get smaller, exposing our multi-national Clients to financial risk.

    If our Client requires a bank account at short notice, we recommend an immediate Kenya solution plus already-approved international corporate bank account).

    We recommend our multi-national Clients open multiple multi-currency corporate bank accounts for their entity. It is unwise to open one corporate bank account and have your business be dependent on one bank.

    For each of their entities, we recommend our multi-national Clients open multiple multi-currency corporate bank accounts across multiple countries. Spread your funds across multiple corporate bank accounts in multiple top-tier banks in multiple different countries. Avoid small banks including PSPs FSPs and digital banks. Ensure each bank offers customer deposit insurance.

    3.

    The majority of Kenyan banks only provide telephone support during Kenya business hours. This is inconvenient for multi-national Clients in Asia or the USA.

    Healy Consultants Group PLC staff assist our multi-national Clients with bank communication, regardless of time zones.

  • The Kenyan banking sector

    Healy Consultants Group PLC summary view:

    • Kenya’s banking and financial system is regulated by the Central Bank of Kenya. In March 2020 the bank sold US dollars to support the stability of the Kenyan shilling. The Central Bank also imposes on banks statutory minimum capital and liquidity buffers of 14.5% and 20% respectively.
    • The Kenyan economy suffered a 5.7% quarter-on-quarter contraction in the second quarter of 2020. Many micro, small and medium-sized businesses have folded or face critical funding issues. In April 2020 it was forecast that up to three quarters of these enterprises risked collapse.
    • Kenyan bank profits declined 30% in the year to June 2020. Some Kenyan banks have issued 2021 profit alerts. For example, KCB Group expects its 2020 profit to plunge 25% year-on-year. We believe this will continue into 2021. We expect i) more customers to default on debt repayments (in July 2020, non-performing loans stood at 13.1%. However, we predict this will rise as the quality of assets weakens) ii) more banks being required to restructure and reschedule loans and iii) more households conserving cash rather than take out loans, causing bank earnings to fall iv) bank redundancies and branch closures, causing the quality of services to fall and v) low interest rates to further hurt bank earnings and margins.
    • Equity turnover on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) fell 6% year-on-year in 2020 as foreign investors fled the market. We expect further falls in market turnover in 2021. We predict in 2021 that the Kenyan economy will also be negatively impacted by i) surging unemployment caused by Covid-related lockdowns and restrictions ii) rising numbers of bankruptcies iii) continued political instability and corruption which will hamper recovery iv) regional instability, including terror attacks in Kenya, deterring new investments v) billions of dollars wiped off the Nairobi Stock Exchange as foreign investors pull out vi) low confidence in the government to implement meaningful economic reforms and attract more foreign direct investment and vii) continued depreciation of the Kenyan shilling against major world currencies, reducing the value of bank deposits. In November 2020, foreign currency deposits in Kenya were valued at US$6.5 billion.
    • That said, the long-term outlook for Kenya’s economy is positive, leading to i) greater appetite for consumer goods leading to ii) rising demand for loans and other bank products and services and iii) an explosion of digital and mobile banking services in the coming years.
    • As East Africa’s top financial hub, located in a region of political turmoil, Kenyan banks, including mobile money service providers, are at risk of being used as vehicles for money laundering, fraud and terror financing. Consequently, we expect Kenyan banks and transactions to come under greater scrutiny in the coming years from global authorities, including governments.
    • Standard & Poor’s sovereign credit rating for Kenya is B+, Moody’s is B2, and Fitch’s rating is B+. Kenya is vulnerable to a sovereign risk downgrade due to weak public finances.
    • In the current environment, it is likely that there will be more bank mergers in Kenya. In practical terms, this is likely to lead to stronger bank balance sheets, greater bank liquidity and better financial sector stability.
    • Many Kenyans access banking through informal, unregulated mobile and digital platforms. However, many of these small, unregulated lenders charge excessive interest rates. Licenced banks also increasingly offer digital products and services, including i) mobile transfers ii) payments and iii) lending services. We expect Kenya’s mobile and digital payments industry to be better regulated in the coming years.
    • Because of the above, Healy Consultants Group PLC recommends multinational Clients currently minimise funds held with Kenyan banks and spread the risk across multiple jurisdictions.
  • Key information on the Kenyan banking sector

    • The Central Bank of Kenya licences, regulates and supervises i) six state banks (Consolidated Bank of Kenya, Development Bank of Kenya, National Bank of Kenya, Housing Finance Ltd, Kenya Commercial Bank Ltd and Stanbic Bank Kenya Limited) ii) 15 foreign-owned commercial banks and iii) 25 local commercial banks. In addition, there are many nationwide and community microfinance lenders across Kenya. More than 10% of Kenyans still do not have access to a bank account.
    • We recommend our Clients bank with the following banks in Kenya: i) Standard Chartered ii) ABSA and iii) Ecobank. As well as Kenyan shilling accounts, some local banks offer multi-currency corporate bank accounts in US$, sterling and Euros.
    • Kenyan banks offer savings, deposits and checking accounts, online banking, currency exchange, foreign currency banking, wire transfers, ATM services, wealth management, loans, LCs, treasury, hedging and advisory services.
    • Corporate banking in Kenya includes a full range of conventional products and services including i) investment products (insurance and unit trusts) ii) financing products and services (trade and share financing) iii) trade and credit facilities (including revolving credit facilities) iv) remittances v) bank guarantee facilities and vi) vendor financing.
    • Most Kenyan banks do not charge an account opening fee. However, the account must be funded immediately after opening and our Client should ensure the account remains active to avoid closure. The minimum balance required varies between US$1,000 and US$5,000 and should be monthly maintained. A monthly service fee of between US$10 and US$20 will be charged for balances below the required minimum.
    • On average, Kenyan banks take two months to issue corporate bank account numbers and e-banking access.
    • Most bank branch staff in Kenya speak English, and correspondence and online banking etc in all banks is available in English.
    • Local retail banks offer better currency exchange rates than money changers. If you open a foreign currency account along with a Kenyan shilling account, transfers can easily be made between the two. In 2021, Kenyan banks pay up to 2.75% interest on shilling currency fixed deposits.
    • Bank deposits in Kenya are protected up to 500,000 shillings (US$4,549) per depositor, per bank. This is a welcome safety net for depositors in the event that a Kenyan bank fails.
    • The World Economic Forum ranks Kenya 61st globally in terms of the soundness of its banks, only the sixth best in Africa.
    • Cash remains king in Kenya. In 2020, 40% of all online retail transactions were made by cash, and 25% by card. That said, credit and debit cards are accepted by most digital platforms in Kenya.
    • Kenya is a signatory to the Common Reporting Standard (CRS), a global initiative to clamp down on tax evasion. As a result, Kenya-based banks share information on accounts and account holders with tax authorities where the company/individual is tax-resident.
    • Similarly, under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), Kenyan banks report information on US account holders to the US Inland Revenue Service (IRS).
  • Foreign exchange obligations in Kenya

    Any residents and non-resident company can open and hold a corporate bank account in Kenya in both local Kenyan and international currencies.
    However, all international transfers exceeding US$10,000 must be reported to the Central Bank of Kenya.

  • Healy Consultants Group PLC fees to help open a corporate bank account in Kenya

    Healy Consultants Group PLC guarantees Kenya company bank account approval. Our fees for different banking services include:

    Kenya banking taskOur Client travelsUS$
    Kenya bank account for a foreign companyNo4,950
    Kenya bank account for a Kenyan companyNo4,950
    Kenya personal bank accountNo4,000

    Our multi-currency corporate bank account opening fees cover the following:

    • At the time of company incorporation, our team determining with our Client the optimal bank solution, comparing local and international corporate bank account options.
    • Creating a quality business plan for the Kenyan banks, explaining the purpose of the business and future banking transactions.
    • Securing welcome emails from multiple Kenyan banks, inviting our Client to submit a multi-currency corporate bank account application.
    • Healy Consultants Group PLC’s Banking Team completing, on our Client’s behalf, the multi-currency corporate bank account application forms and collating Know Your Customer (KYC) due diligence documents.
    • Following successful completion of the above, the bank officer submitting a complete potential customer file to the bank Legal and Compliance Department. (Note that the bank In-house Legal and Compliance Department may revert multiple times for additional documentation and information from i) each bank signatory / director / UBOs of the companies as well as ii) our Client’s business and transactions).
    • If a bank declines to board our Client’s business, Healy Consultants Group PLC immediately informing our Client and actioning back-up banking solutions.
    • In an average of three months following application submission, Healy Consultants Group PLC securing multiple multi-currency corporate bank account numbers for our Client’s Kenyan company.
    • Thereafter, Healy Consultants Group PLC, or the banks, couriering mails and e-banking tokens to the bank signatory, who is expected to activate the internet bank account, with Healy Consultants Group PLC’s assistance if needed.
    • After corporate bank account numbers are secured and, if required, Healy Consultants Group PLC assisting our Client to appoint more new shareholders and directors. However, the banks will usually only approve them as bank signatory after a face-to-face meeting and the review and approval of a bank signatory application.
  • Considerations when opening a bank account in Kenya

    • It is possible for both locally incorporated and foreign (i e non-Kenyan) companies to open a corporate bank account in Kenya. However, it has become increasingly difficult for foreign companies without a permanent establishment (i e physical office premises with lease agreement) in Kenya to open a local account, unless they have existing Kenyan customers or suppliers. A foreigner must first register for a PIN from the Kenya Revenue Authority, and account opening forms must be signed in front of a notary.
    • Depending on our Client’s business and nationality, there is an 80% probability Kenyan banks will request a bank signatory to travel for a one-hour bank interview as part of bank AML/CFT obligations. We will try our best to negotiate with the bank for a travel exemption. Unfortunately, even if our Client travels to Kenya to meet the bank, there is no guarantee that the bank account will be opened.
    • If our Client must travel to Kenya for corporate bank account opening, Healy Consultants Group PLC will refund our Client US$950.
    • Global banks continue to tighten corporate bank account opening procedures, their internal compliance departments completing more thorough due diligence of Clients. Consequently, our Clients should expect the bank account approval period to take up to three months.
    • If our Client is not comfortable with only a Kenya corporate bank account, Healy Consultants Group PLC can open an international corporate bank account outside Kenya. Examples include New York, Germany, Liechtenstein, Austria, Bulgaria, South Africa, Australia, London, South America or Dubai. All banks will be top-tier banks in these countries, with excellent internet banking services.
    • Some Kenyan banks prefer to communicate directly with our Client and will not put Healy Consultants Group PLC in the loop for security purposes. In this case, Healy Consultants Group PLC will assist our Client to prepare quality answers to the bankers’ questions and requests.
  • Documents required for Kenya corporate bank account opening

    Documents required to open a Kenya corporate bank account include i) valid passport ii) proof of address and iii) company registration documents and iv) lease agreement and proof of business in Kenya. For more information on corporate bank account opening procedures, visit this page.
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Conclusion

Kenya multi-currency corporate bank account opening is easy if you know how. Contact Healy Consultants Group PLC if your Firm needs assistance navigating through the different banking solutions.

Contact us

For additional information on our company formation services in Kenya, please contact our in-house country expert, Mr. Kunal Fabiani, directly:
client relationship officer - Kunal