Microfinance institution Oxlink Capital (Oxlink) last week hosted a mobile money conference and awards. Zimbabwe Independent business reporter Taurai Mangudhla (TM) interviewed Oxlink MD Brains Muchemwa (BM) on the concept of the awards and their research findings. Below are excerpts:
TM: What lessons did you learn about Zimbabwe’s mobile money infrastructure during your research?
BM: What became clear, even during the conference, is the fact that there is a lot of infrastructure, both physical and intellectual, that can be shared and harnessed by mobile money ecosystem to achieve scale and greater financial inclusion.
And considering the rate at which this industry is growing and how regulators and players are working towards areas around inter-operability, the-re is little doubt that soon, Zimbabwe will join other progressive economies around the world that have working inter-operable systems.
TM: Where does Zimbabwe stand in terms of mobile money transfers and what is its potential?
BM: Zimbabwe, after Kenya and Tanzania, is one of the biggest success stories on mobile money in the world and stands very close to becoming a success story in terms of mobile money. With cross-network person-to-person transfers in the offing and also a time banks are moving towards agency banking, the potential of mobile money in Zimbabwe is massive. The value of transactions will no doubt reach US$10 billion per annum in the next three years from the current US$6,1 billion.
TM: People have argued mobile money tariffs and fees remain a bit on the high side, what’s your view?
BM: Considering the age of the industry and the massive investments that the players have ploughed into the infrastructure, agents set up and marketing, the tariffs are reasonable and as the industry matures, more so with infrastructure sharing opportunities, I expect the tariffs to come down. I think people have to understand that it’s the advent of mobile money that has made it possible for people in some of the remotest places in Zimbabwe to access banking services and surely the tariffs, when looked from that perspective, are very reasonable.
TM: What is your view regarding the argument that mobile money systems are invading conventional banking space?
BM: The fact that the mobile money platforms need banks to administer the trust accounts means that the two cannot only compete, but rather complement each other.
TM: What areas do you think can be improved going forward?
BM: The issues relating to depositor protection and forced exclusivity of agents are still some of the ghosts the industry needs to exorcise.
TN: How many categories were there for your awards and who won?
BM: There were six categories for the awards as follows: 1. Best Mobile Money & Digital Payments Award — Telecoms Sector — won by Ecocash 2. Best Mobile Money & Digital Payments Award — Banking Sector — won by Cabs 3. Most Comprehensive & Innovative Package Award — Payments — Won by Nettcash 4. Best Mobile Money and Digital Payments Award-Merchants — won by OK Zimbabwe 5. Best Mobile Money & Digital Payments Award — Billers — won by Zesa 6. Best E-Commerce Solution Provider Award — won by ZimSwitch.