Mobile money activities total $6,1 billion

via Mobile money activities total $6,1 billion – NewsDay Zimbabwe July 28, 2015 by Tatira Zwinoira

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) says mobile financial activities totalled $6,1 billion as at December 31, 2014 as the sector expands its reach to areas unreached by normal banking activities.

Norman Mataruka, RBZ director for supervision, on Monday told a Mobile Money Digital Payments and Awards Conference that the mobile money industry was growing in leaps and bounds since 2009.

He said the total volume of transactions stood at 299 million as at December 31. He said the total electronic money balance stood at $60 million as at July 24.

“The mobile money industry has provided the possibility of outreach, vastly beyond traditional banking networks and at significantly lower costs due to the mobile phone characteristics of ubiquity, convenience, speed, security and lower cost,” he said.

Mataruka said mobile financial services have created the building blocks for a digitally-inclusive financial system.

“This has facilitated provision of affordable financial products to low income households and microenterprises that do not have easy access to finance,” he said.

But Mataruka the mobile money payment systems have been accompanied by some challenges, including “operational risks, money-laundering, fraud, and financing of terrorism.

“The fact that access to mobile financial services cuts across the generality of the population calls for the need to ensure adequate laws and regulation as well as the protection of consumers of digital financial services,” he said.

He said the payment systems must function within a “well-defined and regulated framework that provides for a safe and sound environment”.

ICT, Postal and Courier Services minister Supa Mandiwanzira told the conference that mobile money has helped promote financial inclusion in the country.

“We have witnessed the pre-eminence of mobile money which has greatly revolutionised the financial services sector by promoting financial inclusion of the previously unbanked population in Zimbabwe and Africa at large,” Mandiwanzira said.

“Money transfers, which for a long time have been the preserve of banking institutions and multinational money transfer firms, have since been transformed by the emergence of mobile money and digital banking.”

Types of mobile financial services in Zimbabwe include bank-based mobile phone financial service models and non-bank based. Bank-based are those where customers have a direct contractual relationship with a bank and non-bank based is designed to reach out to markets beyond the existing banked groups.

Banks and mobile network operators have also formed strategic partnerships.

Mandiwanzira said that as a ministry he remained committed to promoting a flexible and conducive regulatory environment to continuously promote e-commerce.

However, he said it could only be achieved by addressing some of the challenges that are currently creating cost overburdens in the ICT industry.

As the industry is growing, Mandiwanzira said that efforts would be made to strengthen the regulatory framework over mobile money and digital payments.