FNB to speed up Zim money transfers

(Duncan Alfreds, News24)
(Duncan Alfreds, News24)
Cape Town - First National Bank (FNB) has announced a money transfer service intended to disrupt the technology used to move money to Zimbabwe.

FNB announced on Tuesday that cellphone technology allows for FNB clients living in SA to send money to the neighbouring state.

Zimbabweans use a variety of formal and informal means to send money home, and FNB said that their new service was intended to provide a cheaper alternative that could disrupt existing channels.

"I think so yes: The big change is that it's all real time and immediate. If I send the money now, my sister in Zimbabwe can get the money now," Yolande van Wyk, Head of Digital and Alternative Banking for FNB Africa told News24.

She said that Zimbabwe was the largest corridor for money leaving South Africa on the continent, and FNB was looking at how the service could be expanded.

Transfer services

"If you look at the primary corridors... Zimbabwe is the biggest corridor out of South Africa, but there are other significant corridors as well such as Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho - is actually a big one as well.

"We're looking at what we can do there, yes," said Van Wyk.

It is estimated that 1.9 million Zimbabweans live and work in SA sending around R6.7bn annually to Zimbabwe.

News24 has learned that some Zimbabweans send money with taxi drivers that anything from R20 to R40 per R100 to deliver cash to recipients in Zimbabwe, while other may make use of Money Link or similar transfer services that convert rand into dollars.

The FNB service bypasses currency conversion so that users save money and the cash is instantly available at partner stores in Zimbabwe.

"It's a rand to rand based transaction so there's none of the exchange commissions that you would pay, say if it was rand to dollar.

"We've got two stores live at the moment - one in Harare and one in Bulawayo - and this is being rolled out to further stores inside Zimbabwe," said Van Wyk.

FNB channels

Users of the FNB money transfer service, who have to be FNB account holders, will pay R45 for R1 000 and R70 for a maximum of R1 500, with no fees for the recipient. The cash will be available at OK Ltd stores in Harare and Bulawayo.

Van Wyk said that other FNB channels like the banking app and internet banking were not perfectly suited to the demographic that relies on cellphone banking.

"The markets we're targeting are generally those that would be using cellphone banking, but we're definitely not going to be limiting it only to cellphone banking in the future."

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