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Cash-strapped Zim prefers mobile to traditional online banking

Cash-strapped Zim prefers mobile to traditional online banking

Zimbabwe has an internet penetration rate of approximately 50%, but this has not translating into growth within traditional online banking according to an IH Securities in a report Zimbabwe Banking Sector, Going Digital.

"Conventional internet banking has taken longer to kick off perhaps due to the greater convenience and reach of mobile platforms even within the unbanked," reads an excerpt from the report.

Fellow industry analysts have also said that limited access to the internet, outside of social media bundles (cheaper because of ongoing promotions by mobile firms), has also impacted uptake.

Statistics from Potraz (the Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority) showed in 2017 more than 90% of mobile internet usage in Zimbabwe was taken up by WhatsApp and Facebook.

According to IH Securities, traditional banks have been forced to shift their models, under pressure from the advent of mobile banking, including mobile money services.

"We therefore expect banks to continue coming up with more innovative products within the e-banking and mobile banking space that will add convenience to the customer as well as increase non-funded income," adds the report.

Banks like Barclays Zimbabwe and Standard Chartered Zimbabwe have introduced internet banking platforms, while others in Africa – including South Africa's Absa, have introduced zero-rated data access for some of its internet banking applications.

The report notes that "the main transactions being done on digital platforms are airtime top ups and P2P, bill payments, payroll and bulk payments, ZIPIT payments, merchant payments and international remittances".

Economy analyst Moses Moyo said, "Mobile money would be more prevalent as people transfer funds from accounts straight to mobile wallets easily. Internet banking is not entirely far behind, it's coming up and I guess if the cost of access issue is addressed, internet banking can also become popular."

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