HARARE – Zimbabwe's financial services industry is shifting from traditional transacting methods towards digital banking systems, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) says.
According to the central bank’s monthly economic review for August 2013, the value of mobile and Internet-based transactions increased by 4,93 percent from $303,20 million to $318,16 million between July and August.
This comes as in value terms, cheque transactions declined from $12,3 million in July 2013 to $10,5 million in August 2013.
The apex bank also noted that value of transactions processed through the real time gross settlement (RTGS) system in August 2013 decreased by 15 percent to $3, 35 billion from $3, 96 billion in July 2013.
“The volume of transactions on the RTGS system also registered a decrease of 9 percent, from 205 854 to 187 747 over the same period,” the report said.
Total value of card based transactions rose by 2,23 percent, from $334 million in July to $341,5 million in August 2013.
Many banks moved towards Internet and mobile banking after a memorandum of understanding with the central bank that compelled banks with effective from February this year, not to levy fees on deposits of less than $800 and give four percent interest on deposits of at least $1000 held over 30 days.
This resulted in an outcry by banks who had been earning most of their income from fees and commissions.
Early this year RBZ governor Gideon Gono urged the banking sector to leverage on the current developments in mobile banking as an effective distribution network for financial products to various segments of society.
“Notwithstanding the bold strides attained in the provision of mobile banking services, immense opportunities for growth in mobile payments abound, particularly in view of the rapid rise in penetration rates,” he said.
“As such, banks are urged to leverage on this impelling development in the area of mobile banking as an effective distribution network for financial products to various segments of the transacting public,” said Gono.
He added that the growth in mobile banking had been accompanied by greater access to products such as Diaspora remittances, which could prompt existing customers to increase their use of banking services.
“As monetary authorities we advise that mobile money transfer services are merely a payment system or delivery channel, which does not amount to deposit taking.
Accordingly, mobile transfers should operate on a credit push principle where all e-money value is backed by pre-funded balances which are held in banking institutions,” he said.