Bob Diamond's venture plans mobile banking push

Ashish Thakkar, who co-founded African banking venture Atlas Mara along with former Barclays group chief executive, Bob Diamond, says they are planning a major push into mobile banking in Africa, as their aggressive takeover strategy continues.

Thakkar, who set up Atlas Mara with Diamond at the end of 2013, said it planned to go beyond consolidating banking in Africa – it also wanted to be a "positive disruptive force" in the region.

"We have been able to raise some great capital, intelligent capital - a lot from the U.S. - and we've got a very aggressive strategy," Thakkar told CNBC on the sidelines of the Global Financial Markets Forum in Abu Dhabi.

He said mobile money had become "a huge thing" in Africa, but was currently being driven by the telecom operators.

Ashish Thakkar, founder and chief executive officer of Mara Group
Drew Angerer | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Ashish Thakkar, founder and chief executive officer of Mara Group

"It needs to become about financial institutions and it needs to become more about mobile banking, with new intelligent layers of technology that go inside the banking system," he said. "Technology is going to play a key role in building our own platforms."

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Atlas Mara bought BancABC, which has a southern-Africa focus, in March last year for $265 million in cash and shares. It then agreed to buy 77 percent of the Development Bank of Rwanda through its privatization, and most recently upped its stake in Union Bank of Nigeria.

Thakkar, who joined forced with Diamond after the banker resigned from Barclays in July 2012 in the wake of the Libor-rigging scandal, said the bank would continue on its acquisition spree.

"What we are doing is not new to banking, it is new to Africa," he said. "Yes there is a lot (of new buys on the horizon) - we are only just getting started."