Barclays branches to offer free WiFi

Liquid Telecom has put WiFi into banking halls at 10 of Barclays Bank of Kenya’s flagship branches in Nairobi, as well as its head office in Bishop’s Gate, Ngong Road, in a Sh7.6m project that makes Barclays the first bank in Kenya to offer its customers free Internet access in its branches.

The project is aimed at enabling Barclays’ customers to access Internet banking services and other online content for free via WiFi through a secure network that is fully independent from the bank’s fibre connection, at speeds of 2Mbps.

Liquid Telecom has provided connectivity for Barclays Bank of Kenya for 9 years, with the latest extension in the partnership coming as part of Barclays’ investment in value addition services for its customers to increase their exposure to its online banking optionsand improve the overall customer experience.

Barclays is keen to encourage its customers to use its digital platforms to do their banking, and is rolling out the free WiFi to help clients to explore its online facilities at the same time as they attend to banking needs in physical branches.

The bank’s  Internet banking platform enables customers to open bank accounts, view and print out their bank account status, transfer cash, pay bills, utilities and school fees, contact customer care and carry out foreign exchange transactions, from any location, at any time, 24/7, as long as they have Internet access.

“With the WiFi project, we’re helping Barclays differentiate the customer experience by being the first bank in the country to offer free access to the Internet via a free connection in its halls, something it views as really important for its customers,” said Ben Roberts, CEO, Liquid Telecom Kenya.

The connections come at a time when 99 per cent of Internet connections in Kenya are made through mobile devices, including smartphones, tablets and laptops, according to MobiForge.

But while there is notable uptake of WiFi for banking halls globally, the innovation has been relatively slow to come to Kenya, as banks have been concerned about cyber-attacks and the security threat it posed to their banking systems, at a time when banks and financial institutions remain prime targets, according to Serianu Limited, an IT security consulting firm.

“In allaying the security concern that has long worried banks over free WiFi in their premises, we have set up a WiFi network that is totally independent from the  Internet connection the bank uses to undertake its core business,” said Ben Roberts.

Among the Barclays branches in Nairobi that have been connected in the first phase of connections are Moi Avenue, Queensway, Hurlingham, Westlands, Sarit Centre, Village Market, Yaya Centre, Barclays Plaza and Muthaiga.

The second phase of the project will see more Barclays’ branches in Nairobi and across Kenya connected to WiFi.

Liquid Telecom currently has 80 per cent of Kenyan banks on its fibre optic network. The data and IP services provider is expected to rollout free WiFi for more banks in coming months, with orders placed for more than 60 further banking hall free WiFi connections.