ZB Bank’s agency bank­ing vol­umes jump ten­fold

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - BUSINESS NEWS - Tawanda Musarurwa

INI­TIALLY de­vel­oped in Kenya, the agency bank­ing model is fast be­com­ing a crit­i­cal el­e­ment of the fi­nan­cial ser­vices sec­tor in Zim­babwe.

And one of its main pro­po­nents lo­cally is ZB Fi­nan­cial Hold­ings’ bank­ing arm ZB Bank, which be­gan its own agent net­work in 2015 and had ex­panded it to around 10 000 agents as at the close of last year.

Group cor­po­rate ser­vices head Mr Shad­owsight Chi­ganze said the in­crease in the num­ber of agents has been ac­com­pa­nied by an in­crease in vol­umes trans­acted through the bank­ing model.

“Vol­umes have grown more than ten­fold and con­tinue to grow. We aim to con­tinue de­liv­er­ing ac­cess to fi­nan­cial ser­vices through our ZB Pauri/Khonapho card, which al­lows even non-ZB cus­tomers ac­cess to it,” he said with­out de­tail­ing fig­ures since the com­pany is cur­rently in its closed pe­riod.

“We are rolling out a num­ber of POS ma­chines to al­low easy ac­cess by our cus­tomers. Fur­ther­more, our cus­tomers can also make use of any Zim­switch en­abled POS ma­chine.”

The group’s evolv­ing bank­ing model is cen­tred around its pre­paid card, the ZB Pauri/Khonapho card which al­lows even non-ZB cus­tomers to per­form cash­less trans­ac­tions on any Zim­Switch-en­abled ma­chine.

Pro­po­nents of the agency bank­ing model main­tain that it al­lows banks to ex­tend their reach with limited ex­pen­di­ture, while also ben­e­fit­ing the un­banked in so­ci­ety to have ac­cess to stan­dard bank­ing ser­vices.

The Re­serve Bank of Zim­babwe (RBZ) ap­proved the adop­tion of the model as part of its drive for ex­tend­ing fi­nan­cial in­clu­sion coun­try­wide.

The 2012 FinS­cope MSME Sur­vey and the 2014 FinS­cope Con­sumer Sur­vey re­vealed that 23 per­cent of the coun­try’s adult pop­u­la­tion was fi­nan­cially ex­cluded, and that only 30 per­cent of Zim­babwe’s adult pop­u­la­tion made use of bank­ing ser­vices as at 2014.

Ad­di­tion­ally, only 14 per­cent of MSME (mi­cro, small & medium en­ter­prises) own­ers were banked and only 1 per­cent of the adult pop­u­la­tion made use of cap­i­tal mar­ket ser­vices.

These sta­tis­tics pointed to a need to drive fi­nan­cial in­clu­sion in the coun­try.

Mr Chi­ganze said the group ap­pre­ci­ates the crit­i­cal role that the agency bank­ing model plays, not only in re­spect of fi­nan­cial in­clu­sion but also for the group’s bot­tom-line in view of in­creas­ing com­pe­ti­tion from the mo­bile money plat­forms of telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions firms.

“Agency bank­ing has the po­ten­tial to em­power many com­mu­ni­ties in­clud­ing those pre­vi­ously marginalised, by pro­vid­ing them ac­cess to fi­nan­cial ser­vices.

“This is much greater in most re­mote ar­eas where peo­ple are no longer ge­o­graph­i­cally ex­cluded from fi­nan­cial ser­vices. Peo­ple will no longer need to travel long dis­tances to get bank­ing ser­vices, for they will no longer need to go into a real bank again.

“For the agent, it gives them the op­por­tu­nity to make ad­di­tional in­come from com­mis­sions earned. For the bank, agency bank­ing will help in busi­ness growth that can win back im­por­tant mar­ket share from Tel­cos (mo­bile telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pa­nies),” he said.

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