Mobile, internet money surpass card payments

MOBILE and internet-based transactions have for the first time surpassed card payments after registering a 28,3% growth in the month of May as more account holders turn to the convenience of mobile banking.

Taurai Mangudhla

According to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)’s May 2013 monthly economic review, the value of mobile and internet-based transactions rose from US$283,6 million in April to US$364 million in May 2013, while the total value of card-based transactions rose by 1,3% from US$328,2 million in April to US$332,6 million in May 2013.

Many banks moved towards internet and mobile banking after government said banks should, effective January this year, not levy fees on deposits of less than US$800 and give 4% interest on deposits of at least US$1 000 held over 30 days.

This resulted in an outcry by banks who had been earning most of their income from fees and commisions.

The biggest mobile banking product on the market is Econet Wireless’ EcoCash with more than 1,7 million subscribers as of December 2012 and expects to push in more than US$1 billion on its platform in the 12 months to August 2013.

EcoCash allows people to send money to each other from cellphones and to collect the cash from a network of about 3 000 agents.

The mobile operator integrated the system through various major banks which include CBZ Bank, Steward Bank and Stanbic Bank. His has allowed those with existing bank accounts to move money in and out of banks without entering a banking hall.

EcoCash has also facilitated provision of banking services to millions of people who until now were outside the banking system.
Telecel discontinued its mobile money service in 2011 but subscribers can still access mobile banking through a ZimSwitch platform run by another company while Net One’s mobile money transfer service, One Wallet, has proved to be a success.

Earlier this year, FBC Holdings also entered the fray with the planned expansion of its own mobile banking product, Mobile Moola.
In an overall comment, the RBZ said the national payment systems continued to exhibit stability and resilience during the period under review.

“With the exception of cheques, most payment streams registered increases during the month of May 2013, in both volume and value terms,” the Central Bank said.

In value terms, cheque transactions decreased by 7,2%, from US$16,6 million in April 2013 to US$15,4 million in May 2013.

The value of transactions processed through Zimbabwe Electronic Transfer Settlement System (ZETSS) in May 2013 increased by 10,7% to US$3,91 billion compared to US$3,54 billion in April 2013.

In terms of volumes, transactions registered on the ZETSS increased by 18% from 182 865 to 215 199 during the same period.

Going forward, the RBZ said its goal is to ensure payment systems are available without interruption, meet all users’ needs, and operate at minimum risk and reasonable cost.

“As such, the central bank will continue to deepen its role through increased monitoring and collaboration with various stakeholders in order to maintain safety, soundness and stability in of the payment systems,” the RBZ added.

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