Zimbabwe Watch - FinTech innovation takes root as mobile money interoperability goes live

Amid wider moves in the FinTech innovation space and with mobile money interoperability finally going live, most Zimbabwean banks are going paperless. This is with regards to their payments services although others have been curtailing online payments for pay television service, Multichoice whose Zimbabwean competitor has now received government licensing.

The EcoCash mobile money platform, which is run by Econet Wireless, announced this week that it now allows mobile wallet users on rival networks to use its platforms. The company had been facing pressure from the government to enable mobile money interoperability on its platform with two other networks run by state owned telecommunications companies, namely, NetOne and Telecel Zimbabwe.

Mobile Money

“In the interest of financial inclusion, EcoCash is for everyone, no matter your network,” Econet, founded by billionaire telecom tycoon, Strive Masiyiwa, announced in a statement on Thursday earlier this week.

It said mobile money subscribers from its rival platforms have to register with EcoCash agents and “download the Eco Cash App on Google Play Store or App Store” for them to be able to transact on the platform.

Mobile money has proven an effective solution for cash shortages that Zimbabwe is facing. The central bank in Zimbabwe has been drumming up usage of mobile money and other FinTech platforms, with the number of Point of Sale machines in the country increasing by 20% to approximately 70,000 in 2017.

Cash shortage

Tech and e-commerce startup companies have also stepped up their game to offer solutions aimed at addressing the cash shortages in Zimbabwe. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe this week licenced the Dash digital currency payments backed KuvaCash mobile application which enables seamless peer to peer money transfers, mobile payments and international remittances using smartphones

“It is important to us to legitimately enter Zimbabwe for business with the approval of the regulator, and we plan to take a similar approach to the wider pan-African market,” said James Saruchera, chief executive officer of KuvaCash.

The application will make it possible to carry out transactions and payments at a lower cost and also provides users “with a store of value and means of payment that is more secure and stable than current alternatives,” according to Dash’s Fernando Gutierrez.

The biggest bank in Zimbabwe by capitalisation, CBZ, this week followed in the footsteps of other Zimbabwean banks such as Standard Chartered Zimbabwe which have gone paperless. CBZ advised its depositors that “with effect from the 1st of June 2018, all branches will no longer be processing manual/paper RIGS and Internal Transfer requests”.

It said all payments and transfer transactions can now be carried out using its mobile application, Internet banking and electronic funds transfer platforms. Other banks in Zimbabwe are also linked to mobile money platforms.

“All clients will be able to perform the transactions via CBZ Touch, CBZ Internet Banking and Paynet conveniently anytime, anywhere. We therefore urge all clients to ensure that they have registered on CBZ Touch, CBZ Internet Banking or Paynet platforms by the 31st of May 2018,” the bank said.

Although banks have been moving to Internet, mobile and electronic payment platforms, Old Mutual owned bank, CABS, has disabled subscription payments for pay television service, Dstv through mobile and internet. It asked its clients this week that payments can now only be made in USD notes.

“DSTV payment facility will no longer be available on Mobile banking, Internet Banking and ATM delivery channels. Customers will have to bring USD cash to access the service,” it said.

Multichoice’s rival, Kwese TV was finally licenced to offer content distribution, web casting and video on demand services in Zimbabwe this week. The company, which is controlled by Econet, battled Zimbabwe regulators who sought court interdicts to bar it from operating in Zimbabwe saying it did not have a valid licence.

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