Zim turns to plastic, cyber payment options amid cash constraints

(iStock)
(iStock)

Harare – Zimbabwe, which has an internet penetration rate of about 50%, now has 277 674 internet banking subscriptions, data from the country’s central bank shows. Mobile, electronic and cyber payments for 2017 accounted for 96% of the country’s total value in payments of $97.5bn.

Banks in Zimbabwe have been boosting their online banking platforms, with Standard Chartered, Barclays Zimbabwe and others making progress, according to Zimbabwe banking sector insiders.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has now revealed that internet banking subscriptions in Zimbabwe rose to 277 674 in 2017, up from 168 339 a year earlier.

In line with this, internet payment transactions in the country surged to $7bn in 2017 from $2.5bn in 2016 and accounted for about 7.2% of total payments in the economy.

There were about 4.2 million internet transactions across the country during the year under review, significantly up from 1.1 million online transactions in 2016, RBZ governor John Mangudya said on Wednesday.

'Phenomenal growth in plastic money'

“The growth in the use of plastic money, away from cash transactions, was phenomenal in 2017 to the extent that more than 96% of the $97.5bn - from the 1 billion transactions - processed in the entire country in 2017 were through electronic and mobile banking systems. Mobile payments constituted the bulk of payment streams in volume terms in 2017,” Mangudya said in the 2018 monetary policy statement released on Wednesday.

He added that the growth in electronic payment platforms, including mobile money and internet payments as well as point of sales, was attributable to “the high usage, increased infrastructure and diversity of innovative payment systems products or services” approved during the period under review.

Mobile money payments rose from $5.8bn to $18bn in terms of value while in volume terms, mobile payments drummed up from 298.5 million in 2016 to 754.7 million.

Owing to challenges in accessing hard cash from the banks, the number of point of sale machines deployed across the country also increased by 84% to 59 939. The Zimbabwean government is looking to electronic and plastic money payments as a desperate measure to plug payment glitches.

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