THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has undertaken to improve banking sector stability and improve financial inclusion in the medium term as the apex bank moves to restore confidence in the banking system.
Before 2009, a number of banks collapsed. The post-dollarisation period has seen eight banks — Genesis, Capital, Interfin, AfrAsia, Tetrad, Royal, Trust and Allied — going under prejudicing depositors of their hard-earned cash and destroying trust in banks, key financial intermediaries.
Deputy Reserve Bank governor Khupukile Mlambo told delegates attending the opening of the refurbished Standard Chartered Bank Priority banking branch at Sam Levy’s Village that the central bank has put in place measures that ensure that the banking sector is sound and safe. He added that the RBZ is working bankers to drive financial inclusion.
Financial inclusion or inclusive financing is the delivery of financial services at affordable costs to sections of disadvantaged and low-income segments of society, in contrast to financial exclusion where those services are not available or affordable.
Financial inclusion in Zimbabwe according a government commissioned study, FinScope Consumer Survey, rose to 77% last year from 60% in 2011 driven by mobile money platforms.
“As the central bank there are two objectives that we want to promote in the medium term—banking sector stability and financial inclusion,” Mlambo said.
“The banking sector is generally safe and sound…We have actuall put in place a financial inclusion committee at the central bank that is working on a strategy.”
Also officiating the same launch Standard Chartered Head of Retail Banking for Africa and Middle East, Jaydeep Gupta said the bank, which has been operating in Zimbabwe over the last 120 years remains committed to this market. The bank also launched its Infinite Visa card, a debit card for high net worth individuals.
“Our clients are in for a surprise as we will also be launching a new exclusive card to our priority clients that will afford them a number of benefits, making life easier and more enjoyable. Once again, Standard Chartered is the first bank in the country to introduce this product to the market,” he said.
Official figures show that as at September 30 2015, total banking sector deposits and loans amounted to US$5,5 billion and US$4 billion, respectively, translating to a loan-to-deposit ratio of 72,7%.
The sector remained profitable during the period ended September 30 2015, with an aggregate net profit of US$86,09 million, compared to US$24,35 million recorded in the same period last year.
The central bank says the banking sector is adequately capitalised with a capital base of US$916,81 million as at September 30 2015 and an average capital adequacy ratio of 21,5% against the regulatory threshold of 12%.-Staff Writer