(Adds comments on trade potential, savings)
NAIROBI, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Pan-African group Ecobank Transnational plans to increase its customers to 100 million by 2020 from 10 million now, using technology to hit that goal, the chief executive said on Thursday.
Lenders in Sub-Saharan Africa, where studies show about a third of people have accounts, have been using mobile and Internet banking to recruit new customers, cut operating costs and create new income sources.
Speaking at the launch of Ecobank's new mobile banking application in Kenya, Ade Ayeyemi told Reuters this would help the group reach more users in 33 African nations where it operates. "Without technology we cannot go anywhere," he said.
The application will let users move funds and buy goods across its markets, helping to boost trade in Africa and creating more of a single market on the continent, the CEO of the Togo-based institution said.
Kenyan firms have led the way with mobile phone-based financial services. Telecoms operator Safaricom has partnered with local banks to lend money on phone to customers.
Ayeyemi said the Ecobank mobile banking platform would first focus on customer transactions and boost savings, before offering loans. "You don't lend to people until they know the art of savings," he said.
Reporting by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Edmund Blair