The Sunday Mail
Livingstone Marufu —
ash shortages roiling Zimbabwe’s financial markets have driven many banks into a new age of innovative products designed to promote transactions through digital and electronic platforms.
For many years, cash has been king in Zimbabwe but many people are now moving towards alternatives. According to a recent MasterCard study, cash accounts for nearly 85 percent of global consumer transactions. In other words, depsite quantum leaps in banking, cash has stubbornly resisted extinction.
But experts say in an economy like Zimbabwe’s – where foreign currency is legal tender and is often imported at a premium – use of cash is unsustainable.
Unsurprisingly, banks are quickly improving electronic banking to ensure consumers transact seamlessly. Last week, CBZ said it was upgrading its multi-channel contact centre to enable customers and non-customers to transact without using debit cards.
The inbound and outbound centre uses various channels of communication that include telephony, SMS, e-mail, web chats, WhatsApp and others for convenient banking.
CBZ corporate affairs and training executive Mrs Laura Gwatiringa told The Sunday Mail Business that the transacting public had become increasingly demanding and technologically savvy.
She said CBZ established a centralised one-stop shop to help depositors through the current cash shortages.
“In order to keep up with these demands, the contact centre is an innovative way of serving our clients in a satisfactory manner. It also aims to improve the group’s efficiencies in delivering service to its customers in a seamless way.
“The contact centre can offer the following services which include internet/ mobile banking, blocking and unblocking lost or stolen cards, telemarketing, new accounts opening, new product launches and CBZ touch registrations which can help customers to transact at anytime and anywhere in the world.
“The benefits for the customer include the one stop shop facility, reduced cost of obtaining service, faster service response and real convenience among other benefits.
“One of the greatest benefits is the flexibility of our mobile banking applications as they can be linked to all three networks without any difficulties,” said Mrs Gwatiringa.
FBC Bank has also been upgrading its electronic banking services to enable customers to execute routine transactions without handling cash.
FBC Holdings group head of marketing Ms Priscilla Sadomba said, “FBC Bank launched customer-oriented self-service technology – FBC Mobile Moola. The service opens up a whole world of financial possibilities to the palm of our clients’ and give them 24/7 access to their funds.
“Clients can buy Zesa prepaid electricity, pay Zesa bills, subscribe to DStv, transfer money to other banks, buy airtime, pay council utilities, pay merchants and enquire about their account balance. . .
“We are currently deploying (point of sale) terminals in many retail outlets for our clients’ convenience. It is incumbent upon us to familiarise ourselves with the various digital alternatives to cash and fully understand how they can help the nation to mitigate the prevailing cash challenges.”
Other banks such as ZB, Steward and EcoBank have also adjusted accordingly.