HARARE – Zimbabwe’s worsening cash-crisis has resulted in a significant rise in mobile money transactions, latest central bank figures show.
In its weekly update for the period to May 27, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) said while total National Payment Systems (NPS) transactions stood at 5,5 million 84,6 percent of these transactions had been conducted on the various mobile money platforms.
“The total number of NPS transactions stood at 5 563 099 during the week under analysis, down from the 5 702 979 transactions recorded in the previous week.
“The transactions were distributed as follows: Mobile, 84,64 percent; Point of Sale (POS), 11,37 percent; Automated Teller Machine (ATM), 3,11 percent; Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS), 0,77 percent; and cheque, 0,11 percent,” the central bank said.
However, the total value of transactions processed through the NPS increased from $1 126,74 million in the previous week, to $1 129,51 million during the week ending May 27, 2016.
RTGS transactions stood at $929,23 million, up from $921,46 million registered in the previous week.
“RTGS payments constituted 82,27 percent of the total value of transactions processed through the NPS, followed by Mobile, 8,03 percent; POS, 5,73 percent, ATMs, 3,76 percent; and cheque, 0,21 percent.
Zimbabwe has been experiencing cash shortages in the past few weeks — reminiscent of the 2008 economic and political crisis — with depositors queuing for days at banks to get their hard-earned money.
Market watchers say mobile money is emerging as a reliable cash outlet as depositors can now synch their bank accounts to various mobile wallet platforms to easily access cash as Zimbabwe’s cash availability situation worsens.
Mobile money subscribers have been on the rise as the mode emerges as a cash alternative.
In the first quarter of 2016, subscribers increased by 9,9 percent to reach 7,3 million subscriptions from 6,7 million subscribers recorded prior comparable quarter.
The number of agents also increased by 11,7 percent to reach 33 259 from 29 775 agents recorded in the previous quarter.
Econet Wireless Zimbabwe chief executive Douglas Mboweni recently said his company’s mobile money platform, EcoCash, has become the largest mobile banking and money transfer service in the country, and one of the largest in the region.
“As of February 2016 year-end, EcoCash had 5,8 million registered users and had moved $6,6 billion through money transfer, both within Zimbabwe and from Zimbabweans remitting money from outside the country,” he said.