ZIMBABWE’S largest mobile phone operator by subscription, Econet Wireless, has entered into an agreement with the country’s largest retail bank CBZ in a bid to improve financial inclusion and the use of paperless money.
Report by Bernard Mpofu
Addressing a joint press conference in Harare yesterday, Econet chief executive officer Douglas Mboweni and CBZ Bank executive director Collins Chimutsa said the new deal would help tap funds outside the formal banking system.
Statistics show that at least $2, 5 billion is circulating outside the banking system.
“Econet has entered into a strategic partnership with CBZ,” Chimutsa said. “This CBZ-Econet partnership allows existing bank account holders to easily make payments from their accounts through Ecocash.
“At present, a number of Zimbabweans are operating without a bank account and by having this partnership on the Econet subscription of about seven million effectively means that we are now opening the banking services to all Zimbabweans.” Mboweni said the agreement had transformed Ecocash from being a money transfer service to providing mobile financial services.
Ecocash was launched last September with official statistics showing that at least $300 million passed through the platform.
“We want to go further and develop products that are internationally based because technology knows no boundary.
“We are looking at more partnerships to come,” Mboweni said.
“In terms of the scheduled banks that we have lined up, (Darlington) Mandivenga (Econet Services CEO) is actually working with his team and various banking institutions. I think in the next two weeks you will see some movements.”
Official figures indicate that the level of financial inclusion — the proportion of the population using financial products and services — both formal and informal — remains low amid calls by monetary authorities to encourage banking institutions to offer virtual banking products. According to results of the government-commissioned FinScope survey, 40% of adults are financially excluded and only 24% are banked.